Steve Roberts and Open to Hope’s Executive Director, Dr. Heidi Horsley, became friend in 2006 when they met at The Compassionate Friends. Professionally, Roberts is a bank consultant, but his experience with grief dates back to 2005 when he lost his daughter. “Kelsey was 11 years old, she was killed at her home by her mother, and so my life completely changed as of August 5, 2005.” Roberts started attending The Compassionate Friends support groups in Dallas, and then became involved as a steering committee member. The upcoming July 2015 The Compassionate Friends national conference will be held in Dallas, and Roberts has played a big part in prepping for this event.

Dr. Horsley commends Roberts on his ability to find hope, even after such a tragic loss. “You’ve got a positive way about you,” she says. When asked how he can have such a positive outlook after losing someone to murder, Roberts explains that, “I draw from my daughter’s spirit. I carry her with me wherever I go. And I think that really helps me.” While he can’t be with her physically, knowing his daughter is carried in his heart has helped Robert grieve, heal and reach out to others.

The Hardest of Losses

Losing a child is one of the most heart-wrenching of experiences. Losing a child to murder, by the hands of a co-parent, is even more challenging. “I put together what I consider the five F’s to really help me,” he says. These include faith, family, friends, the future (having something to look forward to) and forgiveness. “That was very difficult for me for a long time,” he says. However, when he learned what forgiveness really meant, he realized holding onto anger would always hold him back.

“We need not walk alone, we are The Compassionate Friends” is part of the creed that’s stated at the end of every support group meeting, and Roberts also carries that with him as comfort.

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Jessica Tyner Mehta

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta, born and raised in Oregon and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the author of numerous books including poetry, fiction, short story collections, and creative non-fiction. Her novel The Wrong Kind of Indian won gold at the 2019 Independent Book Publisher Awards (IPPYs). She’s received several writer-in-residency posts around the world, including the Hosking Houses Trust post with an appointment at The Shakespeare Birthplace (Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK), Paris Lit Up (Paris, France), the Women’s International Study Center (WISC) Acequia Madre House (Santa Fe, NM), the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), the National Parks Art Foundation at Gettysburg National Military Park, and a Writer in the Schools (WITS) residency at Literary Arts (Portland, OR). Jessica received a Halcyon Art Labs fellowship in Washington DC from 2018-19 to curate an anthology of poetry by incarcerated and previously incarcerated indigenous women and is also a member of the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator co-hort in Chicago. She is the recipient of a 40 Under 40 Award from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), received a Barbara Deming Award in Poetry, and was a Top 10 Pick from Portland Story Theatre for “Indian Burns.” She serves as the Associate Poetry Editor for Exclamat!on, a British peer-reviewed journal, Associate Poetry Editor for Bending Genres literary journal, poetry editor at Airlie Press, and is the former President of the Board of Directors for VoiceCatcher journal and non-profit. Jessica has led writing workshops around the globe including at the International Women’s Writing Guild summer conference series and has taught poetry at various institutions including The Loft Literary Center. She has received numerous visiting fellowships, including the Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship at The Lilly Library at University of Indiana Bloomington and The Eccles Centre Visiting Fellowship at The British Library. Jessica’s doctoral research focuses on the intersection of poetry and eating disorders. During her time as a post-graduate researcher, she received a Researcher-led Initiative Award and Humanities PGR Activities Award from the University of Exeter. Jessica founded MehtaFor, a writing services company, in 2012 which serves a variety of clients including Fortune 500 enterprises and major media outlets. MehtaFor received two national bronze awards for Startup of the Year in 2015. Jessica offers complimentary writing services to Native American students and non-profits based in the Pacific Northwest and/or serving Native communities. She received her master’s degree in writing from Portland State University in 2007 and established The Jessica Tyner Scholarship Fund in 2013. It’s the only scholarship exclusively for Native Americans pursuing an advanced degree in writing or a related field. Jessica is also a registered yoga instructor (500-RYT®), registered children’s yoga teacher (RCYT®), certified Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider (YACEP®), and NASM-certified personal trainer (CPT). She’s the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga and strength movement, which offers free classes to groups that don’t have access to traditional yoga studios and/or don’t feel comfortable in such environments.

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