Thru My Eyes Nonprofit Organization Creates Professional Videos for the Terminally Ill Who Want to Leave Messages for Loved Ones
A Scarsdale-based organization lets seriously or terminally ill people leave lasting legacies, free of charge, through video.
Dede Frontera and her daughter Nicole
It’s something no one wants to think about: a devastating, potentially terminal, medical diagnosis. What about your children? Your family? How will they remember you? You have so much still to share with them.
Thru My Eyes can offer some comfort. A not-for-profit organization founded two years ago by 59-year-old Scarsdale resident Carri Rubinstein, a former teacher with a background in fundraising and charitable leadership, and Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, LCSW-R, who brings with her years of clinical experience, Thru My Eyes gives people faced with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by making a free, clinically guided, professionally recorded video for their children and other loved ones in their own homes.
Thru My Eyes was established and named for beautiful, blue-eyed Dede Frontera, a friend of Rubinstein’s who, after having been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, wanted to make recordings for her then 8-year-old daughter so that she would be able to “talk” to her child at important times in her life. “After searching, we realized that no organization like this existed,” says Rubinstein, a breast cancer survivor, 20-plus-year fundraising volunteer for the Vermont/New Hampshire affiliate of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and, this year, co-chair for the Race. “We found an organization in Connecticut that did something similar in a hospital setting for a fee, and they helped Dede make her video.”
When Maidenberg, who had been working with Dede, mentioned her interest in starting a not-for-profit, Dede put her in touch with Rubinstein. Though Dede, sadly, passed away in May 2010 at the age of 41, Rubinstein and Maidenberg formed Thru My Eyes to help other people in similar situations create videos for their loved ones, free of charge. “Our focus is on parents who might miss the major milestones in their children’s lives,” says Rubinstein. “Having received a cancer diagnosis myself and knowing the monetary drain it could be, we agreed that this would be a free service so that we could help anyone.” The organization, which is funded by grants, donations, and fundraisers, works with a number of area hospitals and organizations, and is listed as a resource for the American Cancer Society. The organization also works with the Cancer Coalition of Westchester and the Westchester Cancer Support Team. Thru My Eyes is staffed by professionals who volunteer their services, including Rubinstein’s husband and son, both lawyers; an accountant; a professional videographer; two professional makeup artists; and a network of therapists and other mental-health professionals.
Rubinstein wants people who consider making a video with the organization to know that “this does not mean they are giving up their fight against their illness. This is simply an insurance policy. Hopefully, they will watch this video with their children as they grow up.” For more information, visit thrumyeyes.org.