Kerri Mitchell and Jennifer Talbert-Miller

Beloved Foundation provides support for Inland Empire families when they need it most

The Beloved Foundation has one mission: to make life easier for families struggling financially as their loved ones battle terminal cancer.

Co-founder Jennifer Talbert-Miller knows firsthand how hard it is to be a caregiver: More than a decade ago, her mother was battling breast cancer, and Jennifer was devastated when her good friend Kerri Mitchell revealed that her mom had been diagnosed with melanoma, and it was terminal.

“You obviously want to be there, but there are other things that go along with it — a loss of income and emotional and financial stresses,” Jennifer said.

At the time, Jennifer owned a bridal store, and made a deal with Kerri: She could quit her job in the corporate world to work with her, ensuring a paycheck while also being able to take time off to be by her mother’s side. After going through this experience together, the women had an idea: what if there was an organization that assisted the families of terminal cancer patients, easing their financial struggles?

“I went home, sat down, and poured out a business plan of what it would look like and how it would work,” Jennifer said.

The Beloved Foundation launched in 2009, and provides a maximum of $2,500 per month, per family, for up to three months. “What we want to see is that there’s a plan in place once we provide the help,” Jennifer said. “That might mean changing a housing situation, something that gets them into a long-term solution. We’re a bridge between the short-term crisis and the long-term solution.”

The nonprofit also holds an annual social worker symposium, offers support groups for children, and provides cancer care kits to low-income patients. In order to help so many families, The Beloved Foundation operates a shop, Beloved Couture Bridal. Gorgeous dresses are donated by boutiques and top designers, including Hayley Paige, Essense of Australia, Allure Bridals, and Martina Liana. The gowns — all the latest styles — are offered at 40 to 75 percent off, with profits going back to The Beloved Foundation. 

“We don’t sell used wedding dresses,” Jennifer said. “These are gowns that have never been worn before. We want to provide the best quality dresses for brides.”

The shop is open by appointment only, and focuses on just bridal gowns and accessories. For $30 a month, brides can join the beLOVE Club, which helps the Foundation and also gives shoppers 10 percent off their purchase, free gifts, and monthly surprises. The store is primarily run by volunteers, who go through training and commit to working a set number of hours.

“It’s just like any other bridal shop, except we don’t do ordering,” Jennifer said. “We try to make it the same experience, but even better. It’s a big purchase, it’s a lot of money to spend on something, but you are able to make a difference and impact in the community. That’s awesome.”

Jennifer estimates that 70 percent of women who come into Beloved Couture Bridal choose the boutique because they know someone with cancer, or have been affected by it personally.

“They are very passionate about supporting and giving back with their wedding money,” she said.

Now, The Beloved Foundation serves families in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but Jennifer wants to see its reach grow nationwide. She knows the organization is changing lives by lifting financial burdens, and wants to be able to help more families in need.

“It can be surprising how little assistance is out there,” she said. “I hear so many times from clients that they called 20 different foundations, and didn’t get anything. What’s surprising to me is sometimes, what they receive is minimal, like a gift card. It’s frustrating that there isn’t more support for people.”

Those who have been helped by The Beloved Foundation “are just incredibly thankful,” Jennifer said. “They send beautiful thank you notes. They don’t always believe in the beginning of the process that they will actually get funding.” She’s also had several clients give back when they are able, donating $20 or $50 at a time.

Jennifer recently moved to Atlanta, and there is now a new executive team at Beloved Foundation, with Samantha Chambers serving as director of operations and Mayda Cox board president. Over the last 10 years, Jennifer has met countless families that she will never forget, with each one inspiring her to keep moving forward with her vision.

“It’s nice to know we can give any kind of relief when times are sad,” she said.

For more information on The Beloved Foundation, including how to donate or volunteer, please visit their website. To attend the annual Founder’s Dinner Sept. 21 at the Redlands Country Club, please contact the Beloved Foundation at 909-792-3191. —Catherine

Posted: July 24, 2019

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