When Raenuka Reneau lost her mother to lupus in 2011, she struggled to cope. She felt alone, as though she did not have anyone to talk to while dealing with the loss. As she started working with the Future Project in New York City two years later, she shared her story for the first time, and realized how talking about her loss helped her find something new: her voice. She decided that she wanted to create a way for anyone who had experienced loss—from losing an object of importance to losing a loved one—to have a place to share their stories so they too could discover something new about themselves. With that in mind, she founded Flutter, a storytelling website and a campaign to unite students and adults around their experiences. Before she graduated, had given dozens of people the chance to tell their stories and start to heal.
But what she couldn’t have known, at the time, was how much her story would impact others across the country. When DeAngelo Hughes heard about Ren, he knew that he needed to bring Flutter to Detroit. DeAngelo, who had also lost his mother, found in Flutter the opportunity he had been looking for to honor his mother’s memory and bring together his friends and peers who were struggling with losses of their own. So last year, he launched the Detroit Flutter Chapter, and brought the movement Ren started three years ago to his hometown.
DeAngelo is currently a junior at East English Village Preparatory Academy in Detroit, and is eager to continue to build his local chapter of Flutter. He has also developed a passion for miming, which he says is the first outlet he had for dealing with his mother’s passing. Ren is a junior at Drexel University in Philadelphia, majoring in International Business and Marketing. She has been a mentor to DeAngelo for the past year, and has continued to work on building Flutter.