Students Actively Moving Forward is a nonprofit national organization that helps college students to cope with their grief over an illness or death of a loved one.  At West Chester University, four students have been working towards restarting the WCU chapter of Students Actively Moving Forward.  

West Chester University’s chapter of Students Actively Moving Forward will be a network of support for grieving students, run for students by students.  It will also be a community service organization – with students working on projects that can directly relate to their passions.  West Chester University used to have an active chapter of Students Actively Moving Forward.  With the months of hard work and dedication of sophomores, Lauren Leonard (president), Brandon Messick (vice president), Ezekiel Ottemiller (secretary), and Zachary Wooten (treasurer), the WCU chapter of the organization was officially approved by the Student Government Association to restart next semester.

According to Zach Wooten, treasurer, they are not psychologists, “just students who have experienced the loss of a loved one in a profound way and therefore want to be there for each other, as well as members of the campus community.”  According to Balk, Walker, and Baker (2010), in the past two years, one in three college students have lost a loved one.   Wooten stressed the importance of getting the word out about AMF, because even if a student has not personally experienced loss, they probably know someone who has.

AMF was founded in 2006 by David Fajgenbaum and Benjamin Chesson.   In 2003, two weeks before Fajgenbaum’s freshman year at Georgetown University, his mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Two weeks before she passed away in 2004, while visiting his mother, Fajgenbaum thought of the idea for AMF.  His mother, who had been worried about how he would deal with his loss, approved.

He formed the first chapter of AMF with ten of his classmates.  This quickly expanded to over four hundred people at Georgetown.  AMF, at the time, stood for Ailing Mothers and Fathers, as well as his mother’s initials.  

With the help of his best friend, Benjamin Chesson, Fajgenbaum turned National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers Support Network into a national nonprofit in early 2006.   In 2009, the organization changed its name to National Students of AMF (Actively Moving Forward).   Over the years, there have been over 170 chapters of AMF on campuses across the country.  Today, there are 44 official college campus chapters of AMF.   Over 2,000 students have been involved with AMF in the past six years.

West Chester University Students of AMF will meet on the first and third Tuesdays of each month next semester.  They will also do “various volunteer service projects in an effort to actively move forward in a positive way,” Zach Wooten said.  If any students are interested in getting involved with the service group or the support group, contact Lauren Leonard (  For more information on National Students of AMF visit

Theresa Kelly is a first year student majoring in English Literature Secondary Education.  She can be reached at

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