It is with a heavy heart that we acknowledge the recent passing of Irene Orupabo, one of our very own GRACE staff and family members, who passed away Tuesday, June 4.  To our GRACE family, she was an endearing friend.  To say she was well-loved is an understatement.  Irene brought joy and sweetness to customers, volunteers and team members through her role at GRACEful Buys.  A void remains with her passing, a hole in the store, a loss we all are feeling.

Encounters with Irene were always brightened with her funny, happy, often sassy countenance.  Her regulars at GRACEful Buys were truly like family.  It was well known that she had an ear and a heart to listen to others, but those that knew her closely understood the depth of her caring.  GRACEful Buys Manager, Terri Haun, explained her well.

“It is impactful how much people really did love her.  We have a lot of people on our team, and all are completely unique personalties.  But every one of these people and unique personalities related to Irene.  There is something to be said about that, about how much people really did love her.”

It is a tremendous loss we feel, to say farewell to a woman who cared for and listened to so many people.  Co-workers trusted and found comfort in her as a friend they could lay their problems out to, she counseled and soothed troubles in a way that only one who truly loved can.  Even the day after her passing, a customer friend brought flowers to her at GRACEful Buys, aware that Irene had not been feeling well but unaware of the tragic loss.

Irene was attending nursing school before coming into her role at GRACEful Buys last July, which is perfectly fitting given her caring, serving and giving nature.  She enjoyed involvement in many youth and volunteer activities.  She travelled extensively with her family when she was younger, and was proficient in French, Spanish, Hindu and Swahili.  Irene was incredibly proud of her beautiful daughter, Violet, who just graduated high school.  She is survived by many siblings most of whom are living in Kenya.

Irene offered us strength and purpose, joy and friendship, and stood by us always lending her heart, especially on the most troubling days.  We cannot know for certain how long we have here.  We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way.  We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.  What we can do is live our lives as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy.

We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves.  We can strive to make a better world and know we spent our life well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.  That is how Irene Orupabo lived.  That is her legacy of grace.