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Martha Ward Honorary Fund

A bookmark shaped image with curlicues at the top and bottom. There is a photo of Martha Ward, a woman with short grey hair, red square glasses, red lipstick, a red sweater, gold earrings, and a bright smile, on the upper half, and a poem titled "this 2020 christmas" by Martha Ward that reads "wherever you are,/I am there,/I am there.../blowing kisses into/frost fringed air!/arms raised, I spin about,/launching air hugs,/my joy seeks you out./in each other's hearts,/we end & we begin,/one more year./come, let's serve one and/then one more with/kindness & good cheer." is under her photo.

Dear Friends of IPM:

It is with great sorrow that we send you the sad news of the passing of Martha Ward who became the first Peer Facilitator for The Institute for Poetic Medicine’s Poetry as a Tool for Wellness program.

Martha was diagnosed in July 2022 with cancer. She continued to show up for her poetry groups as she sought consultation and treatment, until the disease overwhelmed her in September. She passed peacefully with her daughter by her bedside on September 29, 2022.

In honor of Martha, we are establishing a scholarship fund, to which we invite your contribution in her honor. This will be used to allow others with a lived experience of mental health challenges to reach their peers, as Martha did, and offer them a creative and healing path to wellness. Our goal being that poetry is made more widely available as a tool for people working toward wellness, especially in the arena of mental health.

The day I attended my first Poetry as a Tool for Wellness

session at Austin Clubhouse, was like an unexpected knock

at the door of my being. I was invited in, made safe and felt

included, found ways to access my authentic feelings and

felt healing begin...

The added learning challenge and experience I am gaining by

presenting for Poetry as a Tool for Wellness is helping me to

step up my sense of community. Each class... has helped me to

eliminate the stigma about mental illness I’ve carried within

myself. I am seeing how I can help myself and help others with

mental illness use poetry to problem solve and deepen

perspective/self understanding/compassion.

All funds raised will sponsor the training as a PTW Peer Facilitator of an individual who can extend Martha’s dedication to bringing poetry to people in need. Thank you for your support of this effort.

In 2016 Martha became the first member of Austin Clubhouse to become a Certified Peer Facilitator of Poetry as a Tool for Wellness. She was a fabulous co-facilitator and mentor to all of us who had the opportunity to learn from her insight, humor, and compassionate witness to life. She was a dedicated poet and brought poetry to her family, various groups in the Austin area, and further afield through her active facilitation of the PTW training series online. Because of her beautiful leadership, skill and training, her local poetry groups continue on. Those groups are now facilitated by volunteer members.

Poetry was her friend to the end, and she leaves us a wonderful treasury of her journey the last several years. We hold the words of Martha’s poem, This 2020 Christmas, near and dear.

We continue to feel Martha’s presence as we carry out our work bringing Poetry as a Tool for Wellness to

people in need.


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