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Hannah Schwartz: When Life Hands You Lemons …

Hannah was just 5 when she and her mom, Laura, got to tag along on her father’s business trip. Etched in her memory is the fun afternoon they had while they were waiting in the hotel for her father to return. “My mom was so full of life and dancing around,” says Hannah. “It was a great day.”

Just a few years later, when Hannah turned 10, her mother passed away after a long illness. The joy left with her.

Laura didn’t have life insurance, and that left Hannah’s father, Christopher, scrambling to find a way to pay for funeral costs, meet everyday expenses and the added cost of after-school care. Grief compounded Hannah’s situation, and she sought peer counseling, which she says “gave me hope when I didn’t have any.”

A few months before her mom’s death, her father changed jobs in order to travel less and be home for Hannah. Then the economic downturn swept his job away and their financial difficulties deepened. Her father took on side jobs while looking for work, and Hannah babysat and later got a retail job to bring in money. Eventually, they were forced to sell the home that Hannah had grown up in.

Turning the corner

As college approached, Hannah relied on advice her mother had given her long ago, “Be prepared to make lemonade out of life’s lemons.” Through hard work and scholarships, Hannah is now at college studying in a program that specializes in bereavement therapy. Her goal is to help other children who have lost a parent navigate the grieving process.

In addition, both she and her dad have life insurance, knowing firsthand what not having it means. “No one can put a value on a mother, but if my parents’ financial plans had included the key ingredient of life insurance, our financial situation and my academic path would have been much more secure.”

You can help students like Hannah make their dream of a college education come true by donating to the nonprofit Life Lessons Scholarship fund. Donate here.

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