Aileen Carrell of University Place, Wash., is the epitome of giving back and helping the community.
In December 2001, Aileen's 3-month-old daughter, Lucy Marie, died of SIDS. The grief was overwhelming, and amid her grief, she discovered the SIDS Foundation of Washington/NISSA. The staff and the volunteers there reached out to Aileen and her husband, Rob. They offered comfort, friendship and help.
Aileen turned her grief into action and gave back to the SIDS Foundation/NISSA. She became a ready volunteer to talk with grieving families and procure items for the organization's fledgling auction. She became an active fundraiser with its Fallen Leaf Walk/Run. She wrote about her experiences for the organization's newsletter.
Aileen joined the board of directors of the SIDS Foundation of Washington/NISSA a few years later, and helped the organization's auction grow and grow and grow.
This year, Aileen took over as president of the board and continues to advocate for SIDS education and research. She connects organizations that help families in need
with NISSA so that infants have safe places to sleep.
Aileen is constantly thinking about how she can help NISSA as well as keep infants safe and sound (and new parents informed of safe sleeping environments).
Lucy's memory lives on in Aileen's amazing dedication and tireless advocacy.
In addition, Aileen also volunteers devotedly at her sons' school, St. Charles Borromeo School in Tacoma. She helps with auctions and other fundraising efforts. She is also active in her church and its outreach and service opportunities.
And she works full time.
Aileen really is an inspiration and a community champion.