MAPLE GROVE, Minn. — Their story stole hearts all around the world. Last December, just months after losing his wife Patti, of 41 years, Mark Schommer got a sign. He, and his kids, and grandkids went to the same Christmas tree farm they had gone to every year before, but this time, the tree they cut down had a base shaped like a heart. His sign. Fast forward to April. A new chapter.
Now, usually after a painful chapter of life, many people choose to move on, not look back. But when Alzheimer's took Patti, moving on meant focusing on what Mark and his four children lost.
“We started the Humble and Kind Foundation in honor of Patti," says Mark.
Mark was caregiver to Patti her last three and a half years. It wasn't easy, but he had support. And the one thing they noticed, is that the caregiver needs care too.
“There was not a foundation, there was not a group, there was not a phone call, a phone number, an email that we could reach out and say,
“what can we do so we don't lose our father in this process too,”” says Mark’s daughter Meghan Lawinger.
Now, with Humble and Kind, they hope to meet that need. To help caregivers of those with early on-set Alzheimer’s, like Patti, take care of themselves. And not have to worry about the financial piece.
“We would love to be able to help people get out of the house, get them an in-home nurse for a couple of hours a week. If that's what's really going to make a difference in their life that's what we'd like to do,” says Mark.
Lawn care, cleaning, just time alone. Whatever it takes to feel supported in the worst chapter of your life, from a family whose lived it.
“The goal of the foundation is to support families that didn't have the kind of support we had through our journey with Alzheimer’s," he says.
For the Schommers, this is their moving on. This is their grieving.
This is now their calling.
“It's a giving back, and it's honoring Patti, and I just don't want what she went through to go unnoticed. I want, there has to be a reason why this happened, and we can help other people now. We know how to help other people,” he says.