HENDERSON, Ky. (WEHT) – A series of angel statues provide a place of comfort for families dealing with the loss of a loved one, and one of those statues is in Albion.
Near the Edwards County courthouse is a statue of an angel that is one of many throughout the country. According to Jessica Gwaltney with the Albion Area Chamber of Commerce, this Angel of Hope statue was erected around the mid-2000s after the death of Edwards County High School student Jakob Poppenhager. Cindy, Jakob’s mother, says the statue was dedicated on November 9, 2002. Gwaltney says there are several of these statues around the country all with the same premise – to honor children who have passed away.
According to Cindy, the statue got its origins from Richard Paul Evan’s book “The Christmas Box.” She says some of the other angels are located in Olney, Illinois, Belleville, Illinois and Evansville, to name a few of the many places where these statues can be found. Cindy says the angel is made of bronze and is a cast from a mold. A foundry made the angel.
Cindy says she lost her 16-year-old son in November 2001. To help cope with her loss, she tried to connect with other parents suffering loss as part of a support network. There were also people who were suffering loss from one, formerly two, loved ones that became M.I.A.. One day, she read a newspaper article about an Angel of Hope statue in Peoria, Illinois. She says she was touched by the story and wrote a letter to the editor of the paper.
Back in Albion, she teamed up with Leon Johnson, Jakob’s Sunday school teacher at the time, and the two worked together to get an Angel of Hope on the courthouse lawn. There were checks from residents of Albion to go toward the angel, as well as money from other sources coming in. The two talked to commissioners about the statue. Cindy says she didn’t ask for a commission, but she knew she needed one since the angel was going to cost $65,000. She helped put a committee together, and two of Jakob’s friends were on it.
Cindy says there have been many candlelight vigils by the statue that take place on December 6 every year. She explains that while some people have issues going to cemeteries to grieve, the Angel of Hope gives them a different place to grieve and heal and, hopefully, connect with others who are also grieving and trying to heal. Cindy says that since the statue was dedicated, there have been people who have come not only to cope with the death of a child, but also in cases of drug abuse and people struggling with the loss of those who are M.I.A.. Cindy says the angel was not dedicated because of Jakob’s death, but due to it. The statue is to be viewed as a way to assist the community in healing.
Cindy says instead of being bitter from loss, she chose to be better.
Cindy says the organization connected to this particular statue offers for purchase of placement of a personalized brick to be placed at the foot of the statue. She says order forms are available for $100 each. Cindy says the organization continues to add to the personalized bricks and take donations to assist with maintenance and to pay insurance.
The statue can be found on the northeastern corner of the Edwards County courthouse lot. The courthouse is located at 50 East Main Street #12 in Albion.
This is the sixth of a weekly twenty-one-part series that will help educate about some roadside landmarks in the Eyewitness News viewing area. Check in every Sunday at 8 a.m. for the next one! Last week’s installment can be found here.