San Antonio mom helps grieving families after her baby died
SAN ANTONIO - How do you heal a broken heart?
“He should have been there playing with the kids at Christmas,” Blanca Vasquez said about her late cousin. “And instead he's gone."
It's a question Rene Blancas Junior's family wasn't prepared to face when a gunman killed their 3 year old in a drive-by shooting last November just days before his birthday.
But out of despair came a sense of hope when a local non-profit called Benjamin’s Right Hand held a special rosary balloon release in honor of Blancas.
“And so when we saw the balloon release, it was just flowing in the wind, and it was up in the air, we felt a peace where we know that he's in heaven," Vasquez explained.
Jessica Craven said she founded Benjamin's Right Hand after the death of her baby two years ago. Benjamin Craven died in their West Side home from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at just 5-months-old.
“I was in the urge of just taking my own life," Craven said.
But instead of letting her anguish take over, the 37-year-old mother of 3 chose to honor her son's life by providing spiritual support to grieving families in his name. Benjamin's Right Hand offers dove and rosary balloon releases and funeral flowers for children gone too soon. Her organization has helped more than 300 families in the last two years.
“I feel like Benjamin, my son, he might not be here but his legacy still lives on through Benjamin's Right Hand,” she explained. “He's touching lives and he's not even here. So that's beautiful."
Vasquez said her family will never forget the spiritual guidance and comfort given to them during their time of need.
“She comforted our hearts and now we want to comfort hers," she told Fox San Antonio’s Ryan Wolf.
That brings us to this week’s CASH FOR KINDNESS surprise. It unfolded outside Craven’s home. Vasquez asked to meet her there to drop off a small donation for her organization, which is need of money for operations in 2018. She had no idea Fox San Antonio was behind the surprise.
“I brought Ryan Wolf here, because, I can't thank you enough for what you did for us," Vasquez told the founder while she cried. “We saw that your organization was out of money and I felt I had to do something and show you how much appreciation we have in our hearts for you going out of your way for us and our family."
Craven said the surprise only reaffirmed her commitment to the organization’s mission.
“It's just amazing that someone took the time to knock on my door, that I've helped, and just knowing that someone thought of me and what I do, cause it's a sacrifice."
Wolf shared the news about her secret nomination.
“No family should have to bury their little one,” he told her. “So in my hand, on behalf of Fox San Antonio, is a cash award on behalf of the CASH FOR KINDNESS program."
A tearful Craven was handed a stack of money and started to count it aloud.
“$500, $600, $700, $800, $900, $1,000,” she said with a shocked look on her face.”
“It's a thousand dollars for her kindness,” Wolf said.
Craven reached out to hug Vasquez.
Both women, who experienced tremendous loss, cried as they embraced each other.
Wolf had one more surprise thanks to a donation from Get It Up Productions on the South Side.
“They have an additional $250 that they wanted to give to you as the first recipient of the New Year on the CASH FOR KINDNESS program,” Wolf explained. “That's a total of $1,250.”
“Wow!” Craven said. “That's awesome. That's amazing."
She plans to use the money to help with one of the first funeral services of 2018.
Click Benjamin's Right Hand to learn more about the organization and ways to help support the cause.
Click CASH FOR KINDNESS to nominate someone for the award.