EmpowerHER Founder Takes On ‘Stories That Matter’

Scituate resident and empowerHER founder Cara Belvin recently partnered with HBO to host “The Conversation: Stories That Matter,” a live event where leading authors and therapists discussed mother loss.

By Brianna Winters | Above photo by Jack Foley

What do you say to a young girl who has lost her mother? The answer still doesn’t come easy to South Shore resident Cara Belvin, founder of empowerHER, a non-profit organization that supports young girls who have experienced the early loss of their mothers. But through a new partnership with HBO’s “The Conversation: Stories That Matter” and the executive women’s group Women@HBO, the discussion will hopefully get a little easier.

Belvin lost her own mother to breast cancer at a young age, and now, with the help of over 250 volunteers across Massachusetts, she is helping to give other young women the confidence to cope with their own losses and face day-to-day experiences with positivity.

“When I started empowerHER my only goal was to bring young girls together on Mother’s Day because it was such a lousy day for me growing up,” says Belvin. There were only 7 girls at the first Mother’s Day Retreat, but that number has grown exponentially. Though empowerHER is based in Cohasset, it boasts a membership of over 130 girls from Framingham down to Cape Cod.

The debut conversation event was held in a TED-style forum and focused on how daughters are defined and shaped by and, most importantly, how they can transcend the tragedy of mother loss. “We wanted to give audience members and anyone who watches the event online a personal and candid experience,” says Belvin.

Left to right: Authors Cynthia Whipple, Hope Edelman and Claire Bidwell Smith joined a panel discussion with Cara Belvin (back row) for “The Conversation: Stories That Matter.” | Photo: Alexander Basin/HBO Photo Services

The list of speakers included acclaimed authors Hope Edelman, author of “Motherless Daughters” (Da Capo Press, 2006) and Claire Bidwell Smith, author of “The Rules of Inheritance” (Plume, 2012). There was also a panel discussion with four women of all different ages whose stories of mother loss spanned from terminal illnesses to sudden deaths. The youngest panelist, Eva Bloche, lost her mother three years ago when she was 16 and talked about discovering all the available resources that organizations like empowerHER bring to this special community of young women.

“There are very few resources for motherless daughters,” says Belvin. “I lost my mother at a time when mother loss was a taboo topic. I received Hope Edelman’s book, Motherless Daughters, as a gift and after reading it I stood taller because I realized that I wasn’t alone in my grief.” That’s what Cara and other event producers, Carlye Rubin and Katie Green of the 2014 HBO documentary “The (Dead Mothers) Club,” hope that other girls realize, too. The Conversation Series will further change the way that these women and empowerHER unite young girls to share their stories. “We have a responsibility to make sure that everyone can gain something from the conversation,” says Belvin.

Videos and excerpts from the debut Conversation Series event are available for download at theconvoseries.com

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