Sona works on CaringBridge correspondence in 2004, assisted by her youngest son, Jake, who was 10 at the time. In the early days, the dining room of the Mehring Family home in Eagan, Minn., was called “Suite 200.” And yes, that’s a basket of unfolded laundry in the right corner of the photo!
You recognized the gifts from the heart of CaringBridge before I did.
On June 7, 1997, I launched one website to support two friends, JoAnn and Darrin, whose baby arrived way too soon. Everyone rallied around the young family, and the waves of love that came across the internet lifted us up during a terrible time.
At the Minnesota hospital where Baby Brighid was born, and among family and friends, word spread about this new way to keep connected during a health crisis. I found myself coding what would be known as CaringBridge, after I had tucked my three young boys into bed at night and started my nightly load of laundry.
‘It Needs to be There for Everyone’
The first donation to CaringBridge, before it was even a nonprofit, came from a grandmother in California. She mailed a check to my home with a note that said, “I would never have known my granddaughter without this service. It needs to be there for everyone.”
And thanks to you, CaringBridge is still here for everyone. Safe, free, and secure. And as a nonprofit, still advertising-free.
My Dining Room Was ‘Suite 200’
Over 20 years, people have supported CaringBridge in so many ways …
The original, all-volunteer CaringBridge team, a number of whom remain dear employees, worked for years out of two rooms in my Eagan, Minn., home. We called it “Suite 100” and “Suite 200.”
It was a shared workspace, long before that become trendy. My dining room table became a post office. My sons, who were 8, 6 and 3 when CaringBridge started, became expert envelope-stuffers.
We still joke about when Nick, the oldest, said to me, “Mom, isn’t it time for you to get a real job?”
Technology Keeps People Connected
As a software engineer by trade, keeping pace with technology is in my DNA. And thanks to you, CaringBridge is just as accessible on a mobile device as it is on a desktop or laptop.
Just the other day, I was thinking back on an early gift from the estate of woman who had not used CaringBridge personally, but believed that technology would be essential in keeping people connected.
Oh, she was so right!
Every Gift Comes From the Heart
But most of all, your generosity amazes me. A penny drive by elementary students. A card with $2 from a senior on a fixed income.
Donors who have been mailing in gifts, like clockwork, for 10 and 20 years, even before we became a nonprofit in 2002.
A royal family that used CaringBridge during a health journey. Every gift comes from the heart.
Powerful Impacts of Giving
Over the years, among my greatest joys and sources of inspiration has been reaching out to thank so many of you for supporting CaringBridge. (By the way, the main phone at the CaringBridge office, which is still in Eagan, Minn., but no longer in my home, is our family’s original land-line number. Soon, no one will remember land-lines!)
When I make these calls, I get to hear, first-hand, the power that comes from giving. There is nothing like it.
Jump, and the Net Will Appear
Going back to the days when we entered donations into a simple spreadsheet in “Suite 200,” also known as my living room, people have been supporting CaringBridge without even being asked. It reminds me of someone telling me years ago, “Jump, and the net will appear.”
And while I am officially retiring on June 30, this is not goodbye. Following your lead, and your generous spirit, I will always love and support CaringBridge.
With overwhelming gratitude for your belief in CaringBridge, I ask you to support — over the next 20 years! — our CEO, Liwanag Ojala. She is smart, and big-hearted, and mom to two of the cutest kids ever.
We are colleagues. And friends.
Over two years of transition-planning with our Board of Directors and leadership team, Liwanag and I have joked that I raised CaringBridge from infancy to college.
Now she takes the baton.
CaringBridge is in good hands.
Will You Support CaringBridge Today?
If you value CaringBridge, too, would you consider making a donation to keep the nonprofit service free, and advertising-free, for everyone one who needs it?
Sona Mehring is founder of CaringBridge.