Simi Valley woman’s nonprofit featured in CNN Hero segment – VC Star

Michele Neff Hernandez

A Simi Valley woman has been recognized as a CNN Hero for her efforts in connecting widowed people to resources as they navigate loss.

Michele Neff Hernandez is featured as this week’s hero on the news network’s online page for the program and in a segment airing on CNN through Sunday night, according to a news release. 

Hernandez is founder and chief executive of Soaring Spirits International, a nonprofit based in Simi Valley. The group aims to provide practical help for the bereaved by providing community and access to resources as they rebuild their lives.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for Soaring Spirits’ services increased. Lockdowns impacted not only people who lost a spouse or partner to the coronavirus, but also people already widowed who were grieving in isolation, the group’s release said. Many resources the group’s community typically depended on were unavailable.

“Our team needed to increase and adapt to programs we offer to be there for those widowed people desperately coping with their loss alone,” Hernandez said in a statement.

Hernandez founded the organization in 2008. Her husband, Phillip, had died in 2005 after being hit by a car while on a bike ride, according to the CNN segment. Soaring Spirits, now in its 13th year, has since helped 4 million widowed people around the world, according to the nonprofit’s materials.

The episode can be watched on CNN’s website at cnn.com/specials/cnn-heroes. More information about Soaring Spirits is available at www.soaringspirits.org.

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