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Infant loss group rebrands with new name

We follow up a recent WDAY News investigation from just over a month ago involving a local woman who, court records show, faked a baby's birth and death, then helped start a charity.

Haven Brand Launch Presentation 2022_Page_08.jpg
Members of Haven pose together with pictures of their children.
Haven / Submitted Photo

FARGO — A popular nonprofit in Fargo-Moorhead that helps families deal with infant loss now has a new look and a new name.

On Eighth Street South and Main Avenue in Fargo, a cozy, century-old building means new beginnings. What was once called Hopeful Heart Project is now called Haven. And with the new name comes a new mission.

"Haven really came from wanting to be something for families, (...) be a safe space," said Haven founder Jen Burgard.

It was just weeks ago that families that had lost babies and were involved in the Hopeful Heart Project let us know Cass County prosecutors were considering charges against the founder, Kayla Sorum, for allegedly embezzling thousands from the group. But combing through court exhibits, our reporting showed Sorum — who shared her story of infant loss with us — had actually made up the story of her baby's birth and death, and according to court exhibits, even ordered a realistic doll from Amazon to be used for pictures.

Because of those events, the families decided to start over, bringing them to a special night: Tuesday, April 19.

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"I think a fresh start was really the best thing we could have done after the recent events, and I feel like the timing was truly perfect," Burgard said. "Because we did sit and take a look at what our mission is, who we're serving, and how we're serving them."

New means a podcast that is now out called, "Landscape of Loss: Haven the Podcast." In it, guests speak about their experiences with losing a child. In it's first episode entitled: "How Loss and Grief Changes Your Perspective," a guest named Jeremy shared his perspective on grief.

"Any of us who have experienced grief knows it'll ambush you out of nowhere, and so it was one of those moments and I realize is everyone experiences grief different," Jeremy said.

The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce came to cut a ribbon. It was all a sign there is a way to start over when things looked so bleak.

Haven is just that. New, fresh, and full of impact.

"Everyone grieves differently, and we're here to support you in whatever way you do that and whatever way is healing for you," Burgard said.

Cass County prosecutors got the police reports on the alleged embezzlement, over a month ago. There's been no word yet on charges.

To learn more about infant loss, the newly branded "Haven" and its podcast, visit: havenmidwest.org

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

Contact Email: kwallevand@wday.com
Phone Number: (701) 241-5317
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