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Love Mom XOXO Nonprofit Supporting Widows, Widowers Suffering After Loss



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When Lynn (Nespoli) Lewis died in December 2020, her family was left with a huge void.

The 48-year-old Newtown resident was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. The brain aneurysm that took her life left her husband Al of 24 years suddenly on his own. It also left the couple’s children — three young adults — without their mother. Al was thrust into the unenviable role of being both parents at the same time he became a widower.

Lynn’s older sister Lori Nespoli watched her brother-in-law and his children struggle through those days.

“They were trying to find their place, figuring out what to do and how to do things, while also navigating milestones,” said Nespoli. There have been holidays, birthdays, and graduations for the Lewises, all without the flair and joy Lynn would have added to each of them.

“Lynn was the glue for all of them, for a lot of people,” her sister said. “You need something, you’d call Lynn. You want to talk, you’d call Lynn. Everyone went to their house, and she made everything special.”

Eighteen months later, Nespoli still misses her sister’s ever-present smile.

“I keep expecting to hear her voice on my phone. We do family dinners at our mom’s house every Sunday, and we still look for Lynn to come in and join us at the table,” she said. “My mother is still hosting those dinners — they’ve been passed down to her, and we’ve been doing them all our lives — but it’s not the same.”

Nespoli knows she and her family are not alone mourning a loved one like Lynn Lewis. So she set about establishing and launching a nonprofit foundation she hopes will help other spouses and families who find themselves in situations similar to hers just 20 months ago.

Love Mom XOXO is a 501(c)(3) Nespoli describes as a family bereavement organization focusing on surviving parents and their children.

“Every day, in the paper, you read about these families who lose one parent, and suddenly those people are mourning their partner while also filling the roles of both parents for their children,” Nespoli said. “The rest of us around them, we try to fill those voids, but it’s just not the same.”

Ripples And Splashes

“Ten years ago, I never thought my family would be here,” she added. Joined by a friend outside Uncle Matt’s Bakery one sunny morning last week, Nespoli talked about her sister, the incredible hole left in the lives of so many — the ripple effect, and the splash effect, she called them — and what she and others are doing to help others navigate the painful path she and her family continue to follow.

Knowing that other families were concurrently going through similar motions, Nespoli decided that helping them could at the same time honor her sister’s memory.

“My head spins with how many things we can do,” Nespoli said. “There are a lot of support groups focused on women, often for those who are older. We wanted to form a community to lean on each other.”

Her first steps created an online peer-to-peer support forum. There is already a private Facebook group for those who want to connect online privately. The foundation’s website (lovemomxoxo.org) also features growing sections that offer resources for fathers, mothers, and family members in general.

As the foundation’s finances increase, stated goals include booking educational workshops, and motivational and support speakers; providing services to families such as housekeeping, meal planning, tutoring, etc; hosting fun events and activities; and providing some financial support immediately following a loss.

The foundation’s ultimate goal, said Nespoli, is to develop scholarships and grants for educational and extracurricular activities.

She approached her brother-in-law, nephew Derrick, and nieces Gina and Tori when she had the idea for Love Mom XOXO.

“I talked with them first, before doing anything else, and they were very excited,” she said. “I know she’s watching, and would want us to do this. I know she’s watching Al and the kids, seeing them struggle.

Love Mom XOXO took its name and logo from the signature Lynn Lewis put into countless notes and cards to her children. The foundation officially launched on Mother’s Day, after Nespoli and the Lewises had been granted nonprofit status for their foundation.

“We told the rest of the family after everything was approved,” she said. Love Mom XOXO is not trying to replace anyone, Nespoli said.

“We’re not trying to take the place of anyone’s parent,” she said. “We’re trying to help others who are in the same place we are. We want to help other families who have suddenly lost a mom or dad, or wife or husband.

“It’s been really hard to watch my brother-in-law and the kids,” she added. “If we can navigate ourselves, and help others, that’s the best we can wish for with Love Mom XOXO.”

Driven With A Purpose

The 1st Annual Love Mom XOXO Driven With A Purpose motorcycle ride was presented Sunday, July 31. It was the fledgling foundation’s first public event.

Al Lewis “loves riding,” said Nespoli, “so he ran with this one. It was a great summer event, and he did this with his two best friends. The whole family cooked, and we pulled in a lot of family and friends.

“It’s given us a chance to pull back together to do things together, like we used to,” added Nespoli. “We had a great turnout. It went very well.”

Riders departed from and returned to Dickinson Park, with dozens of family, friends and supporters remembering Lynn Lewis during an afternoon dedicated to her memory and the new foundation’s future.

After the ride, guests focused their time and attention around the park’s pavilion, where there was plenty of food waiting for them. Funds were raised through the sale of T-shirts featuring the foundation’s logo, along with raffle items.

“It helped us start to turn a negative into something positive,” she said.

Fun & Games, August 28

The next public event is planned for Sunday, August 28. All are invited for “Summer Lovin’ Wine Down,” a family-friendly event to feature light hors d’oeuvres, board games, lawn games, a silent auction, and raffles.

Nespoli credits longtime friend Sarah Geckle with coming up with the fundraiser’s name.

“Lynn’s favorite movie was Grease, so we’re incorporating that into this afternoon of games, which she also loved,” Geckle said, laughing at the memory. “She really loved board games. She could be very competitive.”

One of the key goals for next weekend, said Nespoli, is to have fun. Memorial fundraisers can be much more than morose.

“Lynn loved games, so we’re going to do a lot of things in her honor, while not focused on just her,” she said. “My sister was all about summer, and smiling. We went with our cousins to a vineyard and played games, had a ball, and promised ourselves we would do this again.”

The second gathering of cousins for games at a vineyard did not happen before Lewis died, so August 28, said Nespoli, will be “us doing that for her, and to celebrate her.”

If necessary, the outdoor event will be moved to Sunday, September 11, in the event of rain.

For that reason, and for food planning, organizers are strongly encouraging reservations. Visit lovemomxoxo.org and click on Events to make a reservation.

Cost is $50 per adult, which includes a glass of wine; $80 for two adults (one glass of wine each); $100 for a family pack (two adults and two children ages 11-21, one glass of wine for each adult, one soft drink for each child); and $10 per child/add-on for family pack. Children age 10 and under are free of charge, but registration is still requested for each child, again for planning purposes.

All are welcome. Proceeds will benefit Love Mom XOXO and its mission to provide resources and support for surviving parents.

Love Mom XOXO is also planning to participate in the Newtown Labor Day Parade on September 5. Further ahead, a comedy night with headliner Dave Reilly has been scheduled for November 5; additional details TBA.

Nespoli looks at the mission of the foundation in her sister’s memory as being akin to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together.

“It’s like when a plate breaks,” she said. “We are slowly gluing pieces back together. We won’t be the same, but you repair and you move forward. We want to help everyone do this.”

For additional information visit lovemomxoxo.org or find the organization on Facebook at Love Mom XOXO Foundation Inc. Founder Lori Nespoli can also be contacted at lori@lovemomxoxo.org and 203-641-5818.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Love Mom XOXO took its name and logo from the signature Lynn Lewis put into countless notes and cards to her children. The nonprofit foundation will continue to memorialize Lewis while helping spouses and families who find themselves raising children following the death of a parent.
Family members of the late Lynn Lewis — shown during a July 31 fundraiser at Dickinson Park — have formed a nonprofit foundation to help other families who suddenly find themselves with one parent filling the roles of mother and father following a death. Love Mom XOXO is a family bereavement organization focusing on surviving parents and their children.—photo courtesyLori Nespoli
Love Mom XOXO Founder Lori Nespoli looks through a binder filled with the mission statement and other organizational papers for the 501(c)(3) founded to memorialize her sister. On the table in front of her is a small framed photo of Nespoli with her sister. —Bee Photo, Hicks
—Bee Photo, Hicks
Riders departed from and returned to Dickinson Park before enjoying an afternoon of food and fundraising on July 31. The next Love Mom XOXO fundraiser will be another family-friendly event, crafted to celebrate two of Lynn Lewis’s favorite things: the movie Grease and board games.
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