rBy Amy Chandler
rThe local charitable organization, My Story Matters, was founded with the mission to promote healing, inspire hope, and celebrate courage in everyday heroes by telling their stories. Organization founder, Amy Chandler of Springville, Utah explains, “When we embrace one another as heroes of our own personal journeys, we become more united in compassion, understanding, and empathy as we realize every story really does matter!”
rIn just a few short years, My Story Matters has provided over 1,400 custom storybooks and handmade quilts to deserving children and families. This work is accomplished at the hands of dedicated volunteers and community partners, and through generous donations.
rGetting a one-of-a-kind storybook into the hands of a child or family includes the work of interviewing, photography, writing, design, printing, and finally, the book delivery. Many hearts are touched as the storytelling work passes from one volunteer to the next in this process—and all agree that it’s worth every effort.
rAmy Chandler explains, “These storybooks help improve self esteem, build confidence, inspire imagination, and give a child in transition the power to dream of a hopeful future.”
r“It’s wonderful to see the joy of someone who opens a gift that is their story—who they are, what they feel. It’s a gift that tells them they are not alone and that they matter,” says Julie Hall, office manager for My Story Matters.
rThere are a variety of ways to volunteer and serve throughout the year with My Story Matters. If you’d like to get involved in giving the gift of story, visit www.mystorymatters.org to find out how.
rMeet the Nathan Ellinger
rMy Story Matters focuses its storytelling efforts on a few different populations. The “Fighter Series” highlights the courage and determination of children fighting life-altering conditions, and provides a bridge between life at home and time in the hospital.
rNine-year-old, Nathan Ellinger, was recently nominated for recognition as part of the My Story Matters “Fighter Series.” Nathan was born with two birth defects, Tetralogy of Fallot and Pierre Robin sequence. In his short life he’s had over 40 surgeries, including open-heart surgery.
rWith the assistance of volunteers, Nathan and his siblings gave voice to their unique stories, which, along with photographs, were made into personalized storybooks. Each child also received a custom-made quilt featuring their favorite colors and characters.
rLike all children, Nathan has hopes and dreams for the future. “I want to be a cardiologist when I grow up,” he says. “I want to help people like me who have heart defects.”
rUnlike many children, Nathan has endured very difficult obstacles at a very young age. In his storybook, Nathan explains, “I had to have tongue reduction surgery. That means they had to cut off part of my tongue. It really hurt. Going through surgeries is how I’ve learned to overcome obstacles.”
rNathan’s story also includes the valuable wisdom and insight, “I think being strong means doing something good to help others.”
rSimilarly, the experiences, thoughts and feelings of Nathan’s sisters and little brother were recorded in their special books.
rAfter receiving the storybooks and quilts, Nathan’s father said, “It’s a difficult time, and the books really helped them share their feelings and think about their feelings.”
rHis mother said, “I love these books. Seeing the look on their faces as they look through their books is priceless. That someone stepped up and did something like this for us, means the world.”
rTo learn more about Nathan and his family, and to see the Ellinger children’s reactions to their books and quilts on the day they were delivered go to this video: