It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write today in memory of Ariel Stone. Ariel, our youngest guest, would be turning 25 on February 7th. She passed away yesterday afternoon at St. Peter Hospital surrounded by love. People from throughout Ariel's life came together this weekend to meet and connect because of their deep love for this beautiful woman... and she would have been so thrilled about it. I kept picturing her in the hospital room fluttering around asking if she could "do anything for anyone" and introducing all the people she loved to each other.
At our First Annual Up In Smoke BBQ celebration last August we presented our staff with an award for their "Fiery spirit, big love and laughter". When I was looking back at the video today watching Ariel, in her element--acting, singing karaoke, dancing, laughing with her friends, I thought that quote represented her so well. When she found out that we were going to record the event she was so happy because she could use the recording for her audition tape when she moved to LA to become an actor. She often talked about her dream to go to LA, break into the entertainment scene and get a red corvette to spin around town in.
At the shelter our goal is to meet people where they are, in all their complexities and messiness and show them unconditional respect. Ariel connected with us and many of our volunteers--particularly the Amahoro House team--and although it was never said in plain terms I really believe she felt at home as an important part of our wild shelter family. Although her fiery spirit was often a challenge to reign in--it was the spark that made her undeniably lovable. Ariel experienced monumental loss and trauma in her short life and was such a clear, daily reminder of why we are doing the work we do. She kept coming back to us and for that I am so grateful. We saw so much stability, growth and comfort in her over the past year. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to love her, see her and support her both in life and in death.
A celebration of Ariel's life will take place this Friday, February 5th at 6:30pm. The service will be held at her church--Windworks Church--located at 1835 Cooper Point Rd. NW. We will be meeting at the shelter at 5:30pm on Friday evening to drive together for any volunteers or community members that want to come to the service with us. Please get in touch with any questions or to share stories of your time with Ariel for me to share at the service if you are unable to attend. Send memories and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ariel--you are loved and you are not alone.
Meg Martin, MSW, MHP, is the Shelter Program Director for The Interfaith Works Emergency Overnight Shelter.