You're Beautiful to Me (Film)

$2,165 of $14k goal

Raised by 41 people in 48 months
Kimberly DrGoddess Ellis  PITTSBURGH, PA

This campaign began as "A Joy to Remember Tour" but just months after creating it, our Mother, Ms. Freda Ellis, who was suffering from fronto-temporal dementia forgot how to walk one day.  We took her to the hospital on August 30, 2013 and she never came home. A lot happened in between that time. She died in hospice care on August 30, 2015.

Our last trip was in early August 2013, so it was a complete shock and horrifying to have her forget how to walk just 20 days later. This campaign is now focused on the feature documentary film and transmedia project, "You're Beautiful to Me," a story of a mother and daughter's journey with dementia. Below, you can read the original campaign request. But if you know the story and just want to spread the word or donate to the film , it would be greatly appreciated! Please also read the latest update! We have a dedicated site and we're also on Facebook ( http://YoureBeautifulToMe.com) and our hashtag is #YBTM, everywhere on social media.

A Joy To Remember Tour
Freda Carolyn Ellis

Gracious. Beautiful. Generous. Kind. Thoughtful. Humble.

When I was a little girl, our mailbox was filled with "Thank You" cards and letters that students sent to my Mother, thanking her for teaching them a new skill, which they used to get a new job, which improved their quality of life. It happened almost every week, every month, every year, a paper waterfall of gratitude came pouring in from the post office.
 
Today is Freda Ellis's birthday. She is 72 years old and I could think of no better way to try to celebrate her life than to have the community of persons who love her dearly, contribute to her life in the best way, possible.
 
After a series of odd incidents and confusing scenarios, my family and I finally have the clarity that we need: Freda Ellis was diagnosed with fronto-temporal dementia. It is a mental illness, a disease that, like Alzheimer's, is incurable.
 
Our hearts are broken. 
 
We have begun "the long goodbye" because persons with dementia go through various stages, over varying periods of time, before their brains and their bodies break down---and they die. It's a cold, hard reality but these are the facts. And millions of Americans will be in the exact position we are in now.
 
Freda Ellis has worked so hard her entire life. As long as I can remember, she has had two and three jobs to provide for her children, support her family and make a happy home.She has been the best Mother, ever, and always encouraged her children to "jump at the sun" and to "live our best lives." I became a professor, my brother, Paul, became a lawyer and even though we are both professionals, trying to make it in the city and deal with the mountainous financial and emotional costs of this journey has drained us all. We need the village we call our community to help us out.
 
We don't need to dwell upon what a wonderful person our Mother is because the community will tell you, on this page, on Facebook, everywhere.
 
We decided one of the best ways for those who love her to help her out is to assist in making the Winter of her life, "A Joy to Remember." She is still in the stage in which she remembers people and names, she exercises and enjoys life, great meals, company and travel. We want to throw her a big party (preferably at the August Wilson Center) and we developed a list of places we would like to take her that reflects her past and present joy:
 
1. Niagara Falls - she took us there as children and we want to go back with her again.
 
2. New York City - A graduate of Fordham University, she lived there as a young woman and took many trips to support August Wilson play openings, so we MUST go back.
 
3. A cruise - She's never been on one.
 
4. Thailand - We did the research and there are possibilities here that are untapped in the West. We would like to explore them. Plus, it's affordable, there are beautiful sites and great food. Either way, it's a win.
 
5. Hawaii - It's a dream. If we can make it, we will!
 
We have already taken out a loan to renovate her home and we pay various bills, so there is certainly debt to pay down; but we simply do not have the luxury of time to wait.
 
We want to create "A Joy to Remember" right now and we are hoping those of you who love Ms. Freda and those of you who are touched by this story, will share your resources and help make this happen.
 
As a reward, we would use social media to give you an update each step of the way!

 

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Update 6
Posted by Kimberly Ellis
8 months ago
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Greetings everyone!

It has been a long time since I have updated the site. Most people know by now that our beloved Mother passed away on August 30, 2015. We appreciate all your well wishes and prayers.

As her daughter, my response to coping with her death, beyond the standard ways to grieve, has been to take on solo international travel, as my Mother is the one who taught me how to travel. Thus far, I have been to South Africa, London, Paris, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Cuba, with upcoming trips to New Zealand and Thailand. To celebrate my Mother's legacy, parts of these trips will go into the documentary I am working on to honor her life and help teach the world about dementia, caregiving and health care systems. Creating this GoFundMe for my Mother and I to travel was its initial purpose. Then, after she passed, some people donated to help with funeral costs and honor her memory.

I just finished my first public presentation on her story at Netroots Nation on July 16, 2016, on a "Family Paid Leave" panel organized by PL.US. (thank you, Katie Bethell and Mia Byrdsong!). The response was tremendous and I am always so surprised how much our story affects so many people. I told them I was working on a documentary film, so it is time that I encourage everyone to donate to "You're Beautiful to Me," a story of a mother and daughter's journey with dementia. I received a small grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation (Thank You, Advancing Black Arts!) but quickly learned I needed more. Donations made after this update will go to the film; and I will honor those made beforehand as well! Any help is appreciated. I can't wait for you to see how tragically beautiful our Mother's journey was and what everyone can gain from seeing this feature documentary film. I plan to take it around to film festivals and hold private screenings during the first round and I had no idea how expensive it would be. This is my first documentary film. Thank you for helping!!!

A note on rewards:
Any donations of $25 means an automatic entry into a public film screening. $75 or more will include a digital download of the film. And any donation of $150 or more will include a private event (no transportation, etc.). $500 grants you a private conversation with yours truly and $1500 or more makes you a co-producer. Give $5,000 or more and I will give you the kitchen sink!

Sincerely and with love,

Kimberly
http://YoureBeautifulToMe.com
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Update 5
Posted by Kimberly Ellis
19 months ago
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Greetings Everyone,
I am updating all social media sites to let everyone know that our beloved Mother passed away Sunday morning, August 30, 2015 in Forbes Hospice at West Penn Hospital. Visitation is Friday, Sept. 4, 4-8pm at St. Benedict the Moor Church (91 Crawford St) and the funeral is on Saturday, Sept. 5, at 11:00am, with another brief viewing from 9-10:30am. Her obituary was posted on the front page of the Obituary section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The funeral will be a celebration of her life, so please wear BRIGHT COLORS on Saturday. http://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2015/09/01/Obituary-Freda-Ellis-August-Wilson-s-sister-served-in-many-roles/stories/201508310161

There are two ways you can support:
Contribute here to support the film about her journey with dementia, entitled, "You're Beautiful to Me" (and all rewards will be honored, just replace "show" with "screening" or "viewing." See the attached photo and visit the website: http://yourebeautifultome.com

And/or contribute to the Daisy Wilson Artist Community's by helping to renovate the August Wilson (and Freda Ellis) Childhood Home, under the leadership of her son, Attorney Paul A. Ellis, Jr.: http://GoFundMe.Com/AugustWilsonHome

We thank you all for your support and prayers over the years. This has been a tough journey but it was also filled with joyful moments. We are reminded that Freda Ellis lived a full life of nearly 70 years without frontotemporal dementia. She traveled the world, lived her dreams and engaged the world on her own terms and treated everyone around her with dignity and respect. For that, we say, "Well Done, Freda Ellis! Well Done!"
Climbing Rice Paddies, Guilin, China '05
"I will hold you like the River Jordan."
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Update 4
Posted by Kimberly Ellis
35 months ago
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Hi Everybody! Wow, it's been almost a year since we started this fund. It's time for my Mother's birthday again (she turned 73 on Thursday, April 17) and we're throwing her a big party TODAY, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Most of you know this already from Facebook, Emails, Phone Calls, etc.; but in case we accidentally missed you, here it is! http://HappyBirthdayFredaEllis.eventbrite.com.

Remember this video from last year? Well, we're a far way away from that. My Mom doesn't walk much anymore and she's in a wheelchair. She doesn't talk much either but she does mouth a lot of words and she's very alert. My goals have changed as the travel we wanted to do will not happen; but the new goal is just to get a disability van and enjoy the Summer by taking lots of local trips while the weather is good. It's the little things, right? With your help, it can happen. I didn't realize these vehicles were so expensive and a one month rental is $2500. Yikes.

In the meantime, we'll keep pushing and we thank you so much for your support, it's been awesome and your donations have helped us all year long!

Thank You!
Freda's "Wild Dance Party" at 72 in 2013
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Update 3
Posted by Kimberly Ellis
39 months ago
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Hi Everybody!

It's been a little while since I have posted because I went to pick my Mom up one day and she had trouble walking. I ended up having to take her to the hospital and then she went into a rehab center and nursing home. It was a shock but she had two hairline fractures and had to wear a cast for six weeks. I was basically living with her and am happy to say the cast is off but we are still in rehab trying to get her to walk better.

Nevertheless, we get out and about and your contributions are so helpful! We are thankful to you, especially since getting around is a bit harder than before! Enjoy the pictures and I will update you again soon!

Happy Holidays! --- Kimberly
With her fellow dancers - Legacy Arts
We went to see Sweet Honey N The Rock!
We went to see "The Best Man Holiday!"
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Read a Previous Update
Mary Stevens
30 months ago

Kimberly, my name is mary stevens I have been a friend of your mother since we were about 14 years old . I live in Colorado. If you remember your mom drove back with me from pgh to colorado and we so enjoyed the trip. I need to know where your mother is . I am coming to pgh on October 2 nd & will be staying for a week and a half and would love to see your mom and spend sometime with her. I hope this works out for us. also when I do come to pgh her classmates and I always get together for lunch or dinner and if possible would love for you to bring you mom for our get together. Please call me at 970-405-9186

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Denise Johnson
35 months ago

Ms. Ellis has been a blessing to me sinced I've moved here in 2005, and even more since my own Mother transitioned in 2006. Kim & Paul, thank you so much for sharing her!

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Lisa Picken-Robinson
48 months ago

Ms. Ellis was always a second mom to me and took on the love for my children as well. I will always be thankful to her for that. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to grow up in the presence of a dynamic person who loved everyone with everything that was in her heart. I love you Ms. Ellis!!!!

+ Read More

$2,165 of $14k goal

Raised by 41 people in 48 months
Created April 17, 2013
Kimberly DrGoddess Ellis  
PG
$50
Pamela George
19 months ago

May God continue to bless you and your family, Kimberly.

AF
$100
Alma Sped Fox
19 months ago
HL
$25
Huberta Lowman
19 months ago

In celebration of the gifts that your mother shared that made this world a better place and the love between a mother and daughter. Rest in peace, Ms. Freda.

CB
$50
Carlotta Black
19 months ago

Kim and Paul your mom was loved by so many hearts she touched. I will miss Freda as one of my Godly sisters whom I sat with in church while in song and in prayer. As a genuine jewel, she surely is treasured. To Richard, from your classmate "Cookie " back in the day, always remember how we were taught the power of prayer is most glorified when you look up and feel the arms of Jesus around you full of love. God Bless you all and thank you for sharing Freda with me,

$25
Rachel Sklar
19 months ago

Kimberly your mom sounds wonderful and inspiring. Now that I am a mother I am grateful for her example. Rest in peace.

$50
Anonymous
19 months ago
NI
$50
Necole Irvin
19 months ago

In honor of your mom's life. I look forward to the film #YBTM

LF
$25
Levonia Freelove
19 months ago
SC
$100
Sheila K Collins
19 months ago

In sympathy for your loss, Kimberly. I knew your mother has an African dancer, a facilitator of dance and play, and an energetic activist.

$25
Ervin Dyer
33 months ago

Dear Kim: Your is lovely and this is a special way to honor her. enjoy the journey. I feel blessed to contribute. Peace,

Mary Stevens
30 months ago

Kimberly, my name is mary stevens I have been a friend of your mother since we were about 14 years old . I live in Colorado. If you remember your mom drove back with me from pgh to colorado and we so enjoyed the trip. I need to know where your mother is . I am coming to pgh on October 2 nd & will be staying for a week and a half and would love to see your mom and spend sometime with her. I hope this works out for us. also when I do come to pgh her classmates and I always get together for lunch or dinner and if possible would love for you to bring you mom for our get together. Please call me at 970-405-9186

+ Read More
Denise Johnson
35 months ago

Ms. Ellis has been a blessing to me sinced I've moved here in 2005, and even more since my own Mother transitioned in 2006. Kim & Paul, thank you so much for sharing her!

+ Read More
Lisa Picken-Robinson
48 months ago

Ms. Ellis was always a second mom to me and took on the love for my children as well. I will always be thankful to her for that. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to grow up in the presence of a dynamic person who loved everyone with everything that was in her heart. I love you Ms. Ellis!!!!

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