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“For anyone trying to carve out space in this world while creating the world we want to come…sometimes it is overwhelming.
In February 2014, the Tempest Smith Foundation (TSF) will be holding its very last ConVocation fundraiser before permanently closing its doors. Annette Crossman, TSF’s current executive director and widow of founder Denessa Smith, says that it is “time for the torch to be passed on …and return to normal life.” For over ten years, TSF has been a voice for diversity tolerance in its Michigan community and an advocate of anti-bullying campaigns. Launched in 2003, the Tempest Smith Foundation was the brainchild of Denessa Smith, the mother of bullying victim Tempest Smith. In February of 2001, Tempest committed suicide after enduring six years of persistent abuse in school. Over the following two years Denessa was able to transform her grief into building a foundation that would advocate for tolerance – a foundation that might save other children from her daughter’s fate.
On Monday, Denessa Smith, well known in the Pagan community for her activism and commitment to tolerance, passed away after struggling with complications relating to a recent gall bladder surgery. Smith is perhaps best known as the mother of Tempest Smith, and founder of the Tempest Smith Foundation, an organization dedicated to fostering tolerance and eliminating teen bullying.Denessa and Tempest SmithSmith’s road to activism started with tragedy in 2001 when her daughter, Tempest, then 12, committed suicide due to unrelenting bullying triggered in part by her adherence to Wicca. “Daily, students surrounded Tempest singing “Jesus Loves You” and other hymns in a mocking gesture. Her choice of clothing was scrutinized as being “Goth” though, according to Denessa, Tempest seldom wore black. Even taunts such as “Wiccan whore” and “Satan worshipper” were regular occurrences.”Smith, an Agnostic, partnered with the local Pagan community, and started speaking in public about the need to eliminate bullying.