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Community Highlights: Meet Jason Dyke of Carson’s Village

Hi Jason, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
On April 28, 2017, my life changed forever when I suddenly lost my 11-year-old son Carson. I could never have imagined such tragedy and heartbreak in my life. But I also could never have imagined the swell of support that me and my family experienced in that moment. When Carson died, I was fortunate to have a village of friends and family to help us make the difficult decisions that we had to make to plan a funeral, find a burial plot, organize a service, find resources to pay for it all and more. At that moment, when I was saying goodbye to my son, I was paralyzed with grief and leaned heavily on those around me to put one foot in front of the other. When the funeral was over, I wondered how other families got through those tragic events and googled to find a resource.

At the time, there was not a singular place to get comprehensive support during this tragic time. Being an entrepreneur at heart, having founded four businesses in the past, I knew that this was a significant gap in services and an opportunity to help others who didn’t have a village-like I did. Shortly after Carson’s passing, I founded Carson’s Village. It turned out that I was perfectly poised to do this work. Not only had I experienced the pain and distress personally but I had the entrepreneurial experience, determination, a strong work ethic and a network of experienced friends and colleagues to help guide me in this new space. As of November 17, 2020, Carson’s Village has grown to serve more than 550 families in 36 states from the passing of a loved one through their grief journey.

 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Like any start-up venture, creating Carson’s Village has had its ups and downs. It took us six months from applying for our 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to serve our first family as we struggled to define our services, tell our story and determine the best way to help families. I remember thinking at the beginning that it was imperative that we sit in people’s living rooms face-to-face to help them.

Fast forward to today and we’ve transitioned to a fully virtual model that is lower risk and higher impact and much more sustainable. I recall a business contact spending an hour telling us why a new idea to monetize our services wouldn’t work and after regrouping, we’ve just completed five enthusiastic meetings on the same topic that may lead to future sales. We have worked hard to tell our story, raise funds, and access resources in the community – experiencing our fair share of disappointments along with some amazing wins. Every moment is a learning moment and every course correction has made Carson’s Village more resilient, stronger and better prepared to address the needs in the community.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your organization?
Carson’s Village helps families navigate the challenging decisions they face after the passing of a loved one. Carson’s Village has a live Advocate that works with families to get them through the funeral and then stays connected to them on the first year of their grief journey. Carson’s Village is a first-of-its-kind organization that provides comprehensive, live support during this difficult time. Our differentiator is the live Advocate, a guide who works hand-in-hand with the family to call funeral homes, provide financial coaching, plan the funeral, and help with the hard decisions when families are grieving and in distress. In addition, Carson’s Village sets itself apart through trusting relationships with its families, encouraging them to access a diverse array of counseling services to ensure healthy grieving in the short and long-term. Today, our focus is on sustainable growth and we are proud of our technology and knowledge infrastructure, our recognition in the community and our growing impact.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
For me, success is building something meaningful from my tragedy. If I can create something that changes the lives of others for the better and do it in honor and in memory of my own son, I have been successful. We have a number of important metrics at Carson’s Village that help to guide our business success and while those are also important, I personally feel and am honored by the impact we have on each and every family we help.

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