June Olson’s husband passed away in 2012. Two years later, June lost her only son. Her parents were laid to rest shortly thereafter. After her mother died, June herself became seriously ill and spent months in the hospital.

During each of these losses, June threw herself into writing poetry—a lifelong habit. Initially, she wrote to express her emotions; later, writing poetry and prose helped her understand her grief. In the process, grieving gave way to healing. Eventually, June found that writing for herself was no longer enough. She wanted to use her experience to help others.

Phoenix Children’s

Restacking the deck

A lighthouse over the shoals.

A haiku by June Olson

Building a legacy

As it happened, Phoenix Children’s was already on June’s mind. In the wake of her son’s death, a family member suggested that June consider giving part of her estate to a charity of choice. A retired schoolteacher, June felt a profound empathy for hospitalized children and decided to revise her will to leave a legacy gift to Phoenix Children’s.

As June got to know Phoenix Children’s, she came to realize that it is so much more than a hospital. It is a loving, nurturing environment that cares for the entire child—not just their physical ailment, but also their emotional and developmental well-being.

“These children are more than their disease,” says June. “Phoenix Children’s looks beyond their diagnosis and sees the person inside.”

June was inspired. She imagined a contribution that went beyond a financial gift. She decided to share her own therapeutic practice—writing poetry—with hospitalized children.

Helping to heal

Today, June is known as the Poetry Lady—an unlikely superhero who helps ill and injured children find solace and comfort in the written word. She adapts her approach to each child’s age and abilities, personality and passions. For some, composing a poem can provide powerful emotional release; for others, simply listening to a clever verse can bring a precious moment of joy. 

These days, June provides poetry lessons remotely that are delivered by the staff of Phoenix Children’s 1 Darn Cool School. She misses the one-on-one engagement but knows that what matters is that her students still have the opportunity to find healing through poetry.

“Just because a child is sick doesn’t mean they must wait on the sidelines,” says June. “It’s our job to help them continue to develop and explore. That work can’t wait.”

Follow in June’s footsteps—consider making a legacy gift of your own.

From info on how to join our Legacy Society to a free online will writing tool, we have resources to help you start your giving journey.

Stories Matter

If you have a story about how your life has been touched by Phoenix Children’s, we want to hear from you. 

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