DETROIT (FOX 2)
Losing a parent is a sad reality for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A community activist is helping fulfill a Detroit father’s promise to get his kids to Legoland this summer after the 33-year-old passed away in March due to the virus. He leaves behind multiple children, one of which is named Irvie and is only 5 years old.
“That’s a very traumatic experience, when you’re five and you lose your dad. So I just wanted to be able to do something to make him smile, to let him know that there’s other folks in his corner,” Odis Bellinger said. You may know him from his organization Building Better Men. He’s a licensed clinical therapist and now he’s helping Irvie.
Irvie and his sibling were out of state with relatives when their dad died.
“They went to Tennessee because school let out so they could be away from the pandemic and they come back to their whole lives just being different so it’s been challenging,” their mom Jazmine Gipson said. “He spent a lot of time with them, gave them a lot of love, affection and his time.”
And now the youngest kids are struggling.
“It’s hard because we’re on a waiting list right now for a counselor for her, but they said there are so many children waiting for counseling so I’ve been emailing counselors for her for the past few weeks and nobody, I still can’t get anybody yet,” Jazmine said of Irvie’s sister.
And Irvie, she says, has been acting out, too young to really verbalize how he’s feeling. But Gipson is grateful she’s found Bellinger, who has been working with Irvie remotely via telehealth because of the pandemic.
Coach B, as the kids call him, not only wanted to help with counseling Irvie, he wanted to contribute in another way as well. On Monday, he had a surprise for Irvie and Iyanna. Their dad had promised to take them to Legoland – so Bellinger is making sure they can go.
“We’re going to make it where that financial pressure won’t be there and the kids will have a good time,” he said.
Thanks to the Say Play Foundation, the Detroit to Nepal Foundation and David Contorer and family, they were able to give the family $3,000 for the trip. Bellinger also donated an additional thousand dollars for this family to make that trip to Florida, knowing it’s what Irvin would have wanted for his children.
“It’s going to help tremendously. They’re going to have fun. Yeah, it’s going to help tremendously and I’m so grateful,” Gipson said. “Just angels on earth and I just feel honored and I just feel blessed by God.”
If you’d like to help the family too, you can reach out to Odis at his nonprofit Building Better Men at buildingbettermen.org.