PLATINUM2023

Soaring Spirits International

aka Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, Inc.   |   Simi Valley, CA   |  www.soaringspirits.org

Mission

Soaring Spirits builds community. We create, and maintain, innovative peer-based grief support programs that serve a worldwide population. Based on the powerful connections created by shared experience, we endeavor to ensure that no one need grieve the death of a spouse or life partner alone.

Ruling year info

2008

CEO

Michele Neff Hernandez

Main address

2828 Cochran St #194

Simi Valley, CA 93065 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

38-3787893

NTEE code info

Health - General and Rehabilitative N.E.C. (E99)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (F01)

Public Health Program (E70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2022, 2021 and 2020.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Over one million people are widowed in the US alone each year. Access to bereavement support is not universally accessible, and is limited by a number of factors including, but not limited to: the geographic location, age, gender, race, religious background, and socioeconomic status of the surviving partner. Another barrier to accessing bereavement support is an systemic cultural aversion to, and lack of education about, death and grief. When this aversion is combined with the other physical, mental, emotional, and practical challenges which begin immediately after the death of a conjugal partner, widowed people face an uphill battle in securing resilience building programs and resources that will assist them in rebuilding their lives post-loss. Soaring Spirits endeavors to provide any person who has experienced the death of a spouse or partner with immediate access to research-based programs, resources designed specifically for those who are widowed, and a community of support.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Camp Widow®

Camp Widow® is a weekend long event hosted several times a year in the United States and Canada that brings together widowed people from around the world to celebrate the healing power of community. The focus of Camp Widow is recreating the future, while honoring the past. The weekend is packed with useful tools, reliable resources, and the invaluable experience of being surrounded by peers in this unlikely, but incredible, community.

Population(s) Served

An online community of widowed men and women available 24/7 for support, understanding, and friendship.

Population(s) Served

The Widowed Pen Pal program matches widowed people with one another for one-on-one supportive e-mail correspondence. The Widowed Pen Pal program was designed for those who would rather correspond with one person consistently than join a group forum. This program connects people in the widowed community with up to three other widowed people (widows are connected with widows, and widowers with widowers) who are within ten years of the same age, have lost their spouse or partner within six months of each other, and who have the same parenting status.

Population(s) Served

The Widow's Voice Blog Library includes thousands of blogs written by widowed men and women, searchable by both author and topic. The purpose of this program is to share the unique perspectives of our widowed authors, in order to show the reader that they are not alone. At any given time we have eight bloggers and a new blog post every single day of the week for the reader.

Population(s) Served

Soaring Spirits provides widowed people with the chance to meet socially, and to create a local community of widowed friends through the Regional Social Group program. Groups are led by volunteer facilitators who plan meetings twice a month in their geographical area. These meetings are focused on assisting widowed people in rebuilding their social structure post-loss. We also offer community specific groups for individuals from the following communities: men, LGBTQ+, Black/African American, and people who have experienced multiple losses.

Population(s) Served

The You Are Not Alone Outreach program is comprised of You Are Not Alone Cards and Newly Widowed Packets. All of these materials are free of charge to newly widowed people, and to their loved ones. They can be easily requested on soaringspirits.org

You Are Not Alone cards are small folded business cards, meant to be passed on to a fellow widowed person, that contain all the information they would need to get connected with the Soaring Spirits widowed community.

Newly Widowed Packets contain Soaring Spirits program information, a copy of the Newly Widowed Checklist, and a collection of personal messages from one widowed person to another.

Population(s) Served

The Share the Road Ride is an annual memorial bike ride in honor of Simi Valley's Phil Hernandez, and all people who have been lost in cycling related accidents. This ride, in their honor, highlights the need for safer roads, and an increased awareness on the parts of both motorists and cyclists. The Century Challenge, Metric Century, Half Century, & 25 Mile City Tour welcome cyclist of all ages to join in sharing the road. Held annually in Simi Valley, CA, the Share the Road Ride brings together friends, family, and strangers alike who get to celebrate the lives of fellow cyclists.

Population(s) Served

The Widow Dash Series of runs combines Soaring Spirits’ mission to provide ongoing peer support to widowed people around the world, with our belief that a healthy physical body is a huge step forward in facing any emotional challenge.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

Congressional Recognition 2010

United States Congress

Special Commendation 2013

City of Simi Valley

Special Commendation 2013

City of San Diego

Top 10 2021 CNN Heroes 2021

CNN Heroes

Special Commendation 2023

City of Tampa

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of first-time donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Soaring Spirits International's first time donor number includes people making individual donations, sponsoring of events, Newly Widowed Packet dedications, and Camp Widow® campership donations.

Number of community events or trainings held and attendance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Camp Widow®

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This metric applies to Soaring Spirits in-person programs which were held virtually for 2020 and most of 2021. The 2022 numbers reflect in-person programming only.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

1.) Create and maintain positive, reliable peer-support programs that serve widowed people around the world.
2.) Engage hospitals, hospice organizations, and local community support systems in providing peer-support for the widowed in their communities.
3.) Provide programs whose reach is capable of serving widowed people from any walk of life, and any distance from their loss.

Soaring Spirits has created a core group of programs that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Our support programs are available both online and in-person. All Soaring Spirits programs are designed to create, and foster, community. Peer-support has been proven to be an extremely effective tool for managing the challenges inherent in becoming widowed, and further in assisting widowed men and women in re-engaging in daily life post-loss.

Soaring Spirits will work to maintain the sustainability of our programs; further our community outreach via our Regional Groups programs; and identify and nurture relationships with other organizations working to serve the widowed population.

Soaring Spirits utilizes both online and in-person support opportunities for widowed men and women. The ability to provide programming online greatly expands our reach, while providing in-person programs allows us a hands-on opportunity for sharing resources, and specialized presentations designed specifically for the widowed.

Our online potential is limited only by bandwidth. Three of our six programs are accessed through the Internet, allowing us to offer multiple support options accessible from a person's living room.

We've rated our in-person programs, assisted by Schreiner University and Dr. Carrie West, through a survey of widowed men and women. Dr. West developed surveys to determine the efficacy of our programs in increasing the life satisfaction of widowed people who attend any of our programs. The results have very clearly indicated that participants of Soaring Spirits programs score higher in self-confidence, resilience, and overall life satisfaction than do those who have not attended any SSI programs. We have a program model that works, and the ability to reach millions of widowed men and women.

As of April of 2015, more than two million widowed men and women have benefited from one or more Soaring Spirits program. We've successfully provided reliable resources, and an on-going community of support for these widowed people through the arc of the widowed experience from the date of loss through the successful reintegration into a full and happy life.

Though we are proud of the number of widowed people who have been assisted by our programs, there are 900,000 people widowed in the US alone every year (US Census Bureau Statistics), which means we have only reached a small portion of the widowed people who could benefit from our programs.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

Soaring Spirits International
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Soaring Spirits International

Board of directors
as of 04/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Debi Rooney-Jaso

Terry Marvin

Greg Roman

Doug Feco

Victor Buono

Michelle Dippel

Evelyn Garfield

Mike Inabinet

Jennifer O'Brien

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/1/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/01/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.