There’s no greater gift than giving your time and one person who knows this well is my friend, Laura Johnson. The wife, mother of two, sales manager and model is also founder of charity, April’s Action. The events coordinated and positive changes created this past year via April’s Action have been extraordinary. Here is a Q&A with Laura on her charity and how kind actions of all sizes are the best way to bring together a community while also honoring a loved one’s memory.- CC
When/Why did you decide to start April’s Action?
LJ: In October of 2011, I lost a dear friend, April Lowe Kelly, to cancer. She was 35 years old. I had the privilege of knowing her the last 2 ½ years of her life. Her husband (he and I were friends in high school) and family had moved in and she and I immediately became friends. Her back door was always open and we could sit at that kitchen table and talk for hours it seemed (with kids at our feet, of course).
April had a humble, honest and kind way about her. She smiled immediately when you saw her, no matter what kind of day she was having. You had a “clean slate” with April…always. That’s what my husband, Miles, says to describe her. You walked away feeling better about who you were. She knew no judgment. I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone like that.
In grief and confusion, there is purpose. One night early May I sat staring at this painting my brother-in-law had painted me nearly a year before of these illuminated candles with my second son, Jace, only a few months old. Oh! I wanted to do something big–to give back in some way. I had a responsibility. To humbly love others and give glory to God for a beautiful person who put a stamp not only my life but for all those who knew her. Thank you April.
What are some of the things April’s Action does for others?
LJ: I had watched April’s family, best friends, and even my husband serve April’s family in a time of need. That’s what I believed April’s Action could do for others. I had seen people that hardly knew her family give of themselves and expect nothing in return. THAT is what I believed our foundation could do for others. If nothing else, I believed it could simply be an organization to channel others to help each other in some way.
As of today, we organize teams to volunteer their time to clean homes for families in crisis, get meals to those in need, organize events to give back to those caregivers in the community who work with cancer patients or even the cancer patients themselves. Furthermore, we post those that are in need of thoughts in prayers on our fb page. Knowing you have support and prayers of those who love you (even from so many who don’t know you) is powerful—this is April’s Action.
One of the greatest gifts of this experience is April Kelly’s best friend, April Lipsey. She cared for April until she passed and took the term “friend” to a whole new level. She cleaned for her, cooked and coordinated meals for her and her family, did laundry, you name it. So, who do you think helps me daily with our organization? I couldn’t imagine doing this without her.
I simply want April’s Action to be like I felt she was in my life—a bright candle (like the painting). We are all different shapes and sizes and we burn at different times. She burned just a little bit brighter for me. It’s a quote I have believed in for a long time. We must choose. Be a candle or the mirror that reflects it.
What are your future goals for the charity?
LJ: Keep doing what we’re doing. I would love for there to be three or four chapters in other states in the next few years. So there you go! pay it forward. – Laura Johnson
To learn more, visit April’s Action page on facebook