Weatherford Democrat

July 8, 2010

Benefit combines singing, guests for special cause

Margarita Venegas



Autumn Ater is quite upbeat when she talks about her cause, even though the situation that led her there is sad.

In 2006, her son Robert died from complications from his disabilities. To help herself deal with her grief and because she felt it was a calling from God, Ater started A Hole In My Heart, a group for bereaved mothers who have lost children.

The group meets monthly, but services are also provided online by Ater, who reaches out to talk with bereaved mothers and guides them toward resources and books that may help them.

It’s not a big group in terms of funding but the group does well enough to afford some books and materials, Ater said. 

But, now, she’s got bigger plans.

For a couple of years, Ater has been planning something bigger. She wanted to see a fountain put in Clark Gardens, something that is soothing and spiritual.

She found a statue of baby Jesus held by his mother Mary, who epitomizes the loss of mothers, Ater said. And, she’s been working with a sculptor to get a basin made for the fountain.

Clark Gardens has donated some space behind their meditation chapel.

Everything seems like it’s a go. Well, except for the money.

The group needs about $10,000 for the entire project. So far, they’ve raised about $3,000, Ater said. 

Yet, she smiles knowingly.

God has guided her in the right direction before, she said, and will again.

Case in point — the fundraiser coming up on July 18. It started in an off-hand way. Ater and her husband went to see musician Steve Helms play. Ater got to talking to who she thought was Helms’ business manager, telling her about the group and the loss of her child. It turned out that was actually Helms’ wife, who guided Ater to Shawn Watson. Watson represents a number of bands and helped Ater set up a fundraiser at Railhead Smokehouse in Willow Park.

But, perhaps the most exciting thing, the thing that keeps Ater’s spirits buoyed, is that Watson helped get some major names to promise to come to the event. These musicians can’t be named because of contractual obligations, but they will at least make an appearance during the fundraiser, Ater said. 

The Texas Red Dirt Road Show will also be broadcasting live from the event from 4 to 7 p.m. And, Ater said, she’s hoping to get some raffle items together as well.

There will be no cover charge, but mothers from the group will be at the restaurant to take donations to help raise funds to put the statue in Clark Gardens. 

If by chance the group raises more than $10,000, all the money goes back into the group coffers to help pay for retreats and materials to help grieving mothers, Ater said.

Ater continues to see her mission from God as being such — a vessel who allows others grief to fill her and she carries the burden for them, guiding them through their grief.