On April 28, 2017, Jason Dyke’s life took an unexpected turn. That day his 11-year-old son committed suicide at their Coppell home. Unsure of what to do after this tragedy, Dyke tried to find an organization that could help but came up empty. He and his wife April decided to start Carson’s Village, a nonprofit that helps families navigate through the loss of a child. Since its inception, the organization has helped 171 families in 14 states. The nonprofit has received several awards including nonprofit of the year.
What inspired you to start Carson’s Village?
When I went to sign Carson’s body out of the hospital, I asked them for a brochure. They asked “What brochure?” I said the brochure that’s going to tell me what to do, because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. They said go to a funeral home, and they’ll tell you what to do. At the lowest part of my life I was told to go to a for-profit funeral home, and they would take care of me. I walked out of there with my two boys and my wife and I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. After the funeral was over, I goggled and I found out that there was not one organization out there that helps families passing the funeral. I thought maybe this is what I need to do. I need to do something to help families. I went back to the hospital, which was Medical City Las Colinas, I pitched the idea to their leadership team, and they loved it. I spent 2017 getting everything together, and we started operations in 2018. The very first family we helped was a Coppell family.
How did you get through that difficult time?
I’m not sure we’ll ever be totally through it. We were fortunate to have very good ties to the community. We have a really great neighborhood and Coppell is a phenomenal town. They just opened their arms and took care of us, and it was amazing. Everybody came by and did what they could to help.
How do you walk a family through their loss?
We help them navigate through everything such as passing the funeral. Then we have a program we’re developing that’ll do a follow up with them to make sure they’re getting the counseling services they need. So it’s not just a one and done, but we really establish a relationship with them and follow up with them. We’re there to answer questions and to give our point of view as parents who lost a child.
How does it make you feel to have your efforts recognized?
We are also part of the United Way’s Ground Floor Social Innovation Accelerator. They’ve got this great program where they take ten organizations to mentor and give them grants and classes on how to grow your organization. Fifty-three organizations applied the beginning of this year, 15 made the finals, and we’re one of the ten that were accepted in. We can now co-brand with United Way which is a very big deal.
How do you hope to see Carson’s Village grow?
We’re developing plans for sustainability and growth. Where I see Carson’s Village is partnering with hospitals, insurance companies and businesses. We would be able to offer these services to their employees and patients and members of their insurance program so we can take our services out to a broader audience. There’s no one doing what we’re doing, and I think not only can we help the families in North Texas, but we have the ability to spread across the country and help all those people that find themselves lost like we did.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Before Carson passed, I liked to do woodworking. When Carson passed, that kind of upended everything and now all my spare time goes into Carson’s Village.
What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite movie would be any “Star Wars” movie. I remember the night that I sat on the bed on my bedroom and put on “Star Wars” for the first time with my three little boys, and we laid in bed and watched it. It was a night I’lll never forget.
What are some things that make you smile?
Any Texas A&M team winning makes me smile. My kids and my family make me laugh, and I make myself laugh.