This semester, two Harding students created HU Valley, an organization to support students who have one or more parents dealing with severe illness.
The organization is a support group created by senior Hayley Ford and junior Ally Bateman. The meetings are planned to occur every other Thursday in the Kibo room of Midnight Oil, a local coffee shop. They have also invited Dr. Pollard, HU Valley sponsor and assistant director of the counseling center at Harding, to be a part of the meetings.
“God created us to be a community,” Dr. Pollard said. “Just as we are brought to Harding as a community of believers, I believe HU Valley can bring together a select community with a shared focus and find strength together to face whatever lies ahead. “
Ford and Bateman decided to start the group after finding out that each of them has a parent that was diagnosed with cancer within the past year, according to Bateman. They started leaning on each other for support and understanding through that.
“Just that strength that it’s building is something that I’m really excited about and looking forward to,” Bateman said. “It is hard to go through it, but a lot of people go through it. So, we’re not alone even though we feel like it.”
Ford and Bateman spoke in chapel with President Dr. Bruce McLarty to introduce the new organization and talk about what it was like for them to have a parent be diagnosed with cancer. When Ford decided to begin the organization with Bateman, she went to Dr. McLarty for help and guidance, according to Ford. Together they saw the need for the support group and began the steps to create it. They also came up with the slogan, “bloom where you’re planted” and the name for the organization.
“I think it is important to acknowledge that this stinks,” Ford said. “It is not what anyone would want to have happen, but we are called to do more than just sit in the valley to bask and grieve.”
While the organization won’t be exclusive to students dealing cancer diagnoses, they have hoped to keep the group centered around students with parents that have severe illnesses, according to Ford.
“I think the difference with parents is just that they have been the ones that raised you, instilled in you your values and have taken care of you,” Ford said. “When your parent takes a turn for the worse health wise and you’re the one taking care of them, that is just a very confusing process.”
They planned for the first meeting to be Thursday, October 18, and they will take place every two weeks afterwards.