We caught up with nonprofit Legacies Live On founder, Victoria Ifan, for a discussion on Black History Month. She told us how Legacies Live On supports the community and how she honors Black History Month in her personal life. Keep reading for the full Q&A!
Can you tell us how Legacies Live On began, and what that process was like?
My dad unfortunately passed away from brain cancer in September 2018. When it happened, grief struck me hard, and I felt an immense feeling of isolation, helplessness and sadness. I also felt this longing to honor his memory and carry his legacy forward. While I’m thankful I had my faith and a community of friends and family who supported me, I desired to have a support group of other young people who were grieving to talk to. I kept thinking –
Particularly once the pandemic hit in 2020 and there was so much grief and loss surrounding us, I knew the purpose and vision I had was more important than ever. I wanted people to feel like they could honor a loved one while also finding purpose. So, I decided to create a nonprofit with that specific mission in mind, and I enlisted the support of close friends and family who wanted to embark on this journey of helping others in their most difficult moments. While bonding over difficult grief is certainly not something we wish for, I wanted to make sure there was a safe space and community of individuals like me people could come to and lean on. From there, Legacies Live On was born.
Starting Legacies Live On has been an incredible journey with some challenges and lessons learned along the way. I’m transparent about the fact that I have no experience as a nonprofit founder, but what I do know is that at my core I know all I want to do is to help others. Bringing to life any idea that you’re passionate about will certainly come with its challenges but I realize that is the beauty in this. That’s what navigating grief, loss or any difficult moment in your life for that matter is about. There are ups and downs but slowly but surely you’ll find your way to bringing it to life.
How does Legacies Live On support those who are grieving?
Legacies Live On is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps young people who are grieving work through their loss and honor their loved one’s legacy with purpose by providing a network of support, educational resources, community outreach opportunities and financial assistance.
What impact have you seen Legacies Live On make in your personal life & community?
Legacies Live On has impacted me personally by growing me as a leader and making me more aware of minding my mental health. I’ve had moments where I’ve doubted myself, but Legacies Live On continues to ground me in why it’s important to speak out about loss and grief. It has given me renewed purpose in life.
It’s impacted our community in the same way – we have empowered others to talk about their struggles when they normally wouldn’t have, driven education and awareness for others who haven’t experienced loss, and have offered a community of support that’s so needed at this time. I loved hearing a story from a member of our LLO community who said her newborn twins were a reminder that her mother’s legacy lives on through them. Those types of anecdotes are what make me realize why this organization is so needed.
This year’s Black History Month focus is Health & Wellness. How does your work connect to that theme?
There’s so much loss going on across the world, and unfortunately there are people suffering in silence. I think this becomes even more true for the Black community, where historically mental health is not talked about as much. There are many layers to the experiences of Black people in this country, which can affect emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Prioritizing wellness and self care is important to us at Legacies Live On because no one can be your biggest advocate but you. We encourage our community to share about their grief journey, prioritize self care and seek mental health resources and support to make sure they are checking in on their mental well-being. Wellness should be everyone’s top priority, and we hope to continue advocating for that through our nonprofit.
What Black role models & leaders have helped you or inspired you throughout your life and throughout building your non-profit?
My mom and dad are my ultimate role models. They were immigrants from Nigeria, and I’m in awe of the life they built for themselves and our family despite the odds and challenges they faced every step of the way. Both of them taught me how to love, give back, be supportive of others, and the importance of hard work. I know my dad isn’t here with us anymore, but I am grateful for all the values he instilled in me as a little girl that I continue to carry with me now. I’m also grateful to have an amazing mom who pours into me every day to make sure I feel loved and supported. Don’t know what I’d do without her!
Another role model of mine is Michelle Obama. When I read her book Becoming, I immediately identified with some of the anecdotes she shared about her dad and her grief journey after he passed away. She’s a strong, intelligent, dynamic and mission-oriented woman and many of the values she said her father instilled in her I can relate to.
How do you honor Black History Month in your life?
I honor Black history by helping shift the narrative around mental health. Black history is love, pain, struggle, triumph, advocacy and so many other things. Black history is about commemorating the legacies of those who have come before us and using those experiences to propel us forward with new purpose. Black history is breaking barriers and challenging the norm.
In creating Legacies Live On, I hope to continue offering a safe space of support and compassion to talk about mental health while also empowering people to honor their loved one’s legacy with purpose despite any challenges or barriers they might face. It’s important we continue breaking barriers to make sure people get the help and support they need.
Like the late great Maya Angelou said, “Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
How can someone get involved and help your mission?
Start honoring legacy with purpose! Honor your loved one’s legacy with purpose in whatever way feels most comfortable for you – whether that’s through community outreach, advocating for social impact issues, donating to local organizations, volunteering, etc. Tag/follow @legaciesliveonininc on instagram/FB when you do so we can feature you on your page.
Volunteer/Get involved. We are planning a few events this year, including a wellness summit, so we’d love to get people involved. If you’re passionate about mental health, wellness and/or grief, it would be great to have you join us. It’s a great way to give back to the community while also meeting other young people.
Spread the word. If you know of any people who might need a support community, let them know about us and tell them to reach out to us on IG or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are so thankful to have had the opportunity to connect with Victoria and giving us deeper insight to Legacies Live On.