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Haley Martin’s parents turn daughter’s death into art scholarship for local kids

  • Glenn and Holly Martin, hold a framed self-portrait of their daughter Haley Martin at their Northwood home on February 1, 2013. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.<br/>JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff

    Glenn and Holly Martin, hold a framed self-portrait of their daughter Haley Martin at their Northwood home on February 1, 2013. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.
    JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff

  • Glenn and Holly Martin hold hands to show off their bracelets made by their daughter, Haley Martin. Along with making hundred of bracelets, Haley, a graduate of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, was interested in phtography and spent a lot of time photographing nature and self-portraits, her parents said. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.<br/>JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff

    Glenn and Holly Martin hold hands to show off their bracelets made by their daughter, Haley Martin. Along with making hundred of bracelets, Haley, a graduate of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, was interested in phtography and spent a lot of time photographing nature and self-portraits, her parents said. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.
    JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff

  • Glenn and Holly Martin, hold a framed self-portrait of their daughter Haley Martin at their Northwood home on February 1, 2013. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.<br/>JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff
  • Glenn and Holly Martin hold hands to show off their bracelets made by their daughter, Haley Martin. Along with making hundred of bracelets, Haley, a graduate of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, was interested in phtography and spent a lot of time photographing nature and self-portraits, her parents said. Haley passed-away last October and her parents have set up the Haley Rae Martin Scholarship Fund at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art in Concord. The fund was set up to assist teenagers with tuition.<br/>JOHN TULLY / Monitor Staff

The Haley Martin her parents knew was shy around strangers but could be friends with anyone once she felt safe. She could strike up a conversation with someone sitting on the street asking for change, or with a boy from class with autism.

She was 19 when she died on Oct. 23, and while the official cause has not been released, the police have said they are still investigating what happened that night before she was brought to Concord Hospital. Just a week earlier, she had been arrested when, the police say, she and a man were seen tagging a Storrs Street Dumpster with graffiti. The two ran and Haley allegedly punched a police officer who caught her.

But the Haley her parents knew was the type of girl who inspired even her rough and tough father and uncle to create bright beaded bracelets after a day of four-wheeling in the woods.

She was an only child, and she trusted everyone, bringing her Canon 60D camera with her everywhere she went, creating images that revealed her unique way of seeing the world. In the end, her parents Glenn and Holly Martin said, she trusted the wrong people and trusted too much, but they don’t want her special vision of the world to be lost. So they’ve teamed up with Kimball-Jenkins School of Art to give scholarships to kids and teens looking to study art.

“When you lose a child, your whole world crumbles and you have no idea what direction to go in,” said Haley’s mother, Holly Martin, in an interview at the family’s home on Pleasant Lake in Northwood last week.

“This whole house was filled with flowers and fruit baskets and cards. It was wonderful and it was amazing to see, but we wanted her death to go to something positive, if we could pull it off.”

A 2011 graduate of Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, Haley was living at home and trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. Art and photography were her ways of relating to a world that wasn’t always welcoming for her, the Martins said.

Haley suffered from anxiety and was often fearful people would judge her harshly, her mother said.

“She had a difficult time fitting in. But on the internet, people don’t judge you. She found other kids on the internet like her who felt more comfortable there than in social situations,” Holly said.

“A lot of the kids today are just wandering,” Glenn Martin said. “It’s tough to find work today, and they need something to hook onto. Photography was becoming that thing for Haley. She would go everywhere with that camera.

Sometimes I used to worry about where she’d go, that somebody might steal her camera, but it was the thing she was using to figure out where she was going. That’s what we’re hoping to do, to maybe get somebody else hooked up to something good, so they might go down a more positive path.”

So far, the fund has raised $4,000 and given five local kids the opportunity to attend classes at the school. Most of the donations have been in small increments, between $5 and $50, said Kimball-Jenkins Executive Director Ryan Linehan.

Art can help kids find their paths through life, something that’s important for them to do on their own, the Martins said.

“You can do it for them, but it never lasts,” Holly said. “We really wanted Haley to do it on her own, and she was.”

Earlier in the fall, Haley had gotten a job at a local retailer as a merchandiser, and unbeknownst to her parents, had looked into taking classes at the Kimball-Jenkins school. She spent her time making jewelry, editing her photographs and hanging out with friends.

To Haley, her parents said, just about anyone could be a friend.

Glenn remembers getting a letter recently from the mother of one of Haley’s classmates, a young man with autism. Haley had spent time with him as a friend, and his mother was grateful and wanted the Martins to know how much their daughter meant to her son.

She just as easily related to people who lived on the streets, they said.

“She was very accepting. It didn’t matter where you lived or what you represented. Nothing mattered to Haley except you as a person,” Holly said. “We were really worried sometimes, and we tried to get her to see that nobody will ever be as protective of you as your parents. People you think are your friends are not always going to look out for you. Unfortunately, that’s how she met her end.”

Given the chance to look back, though, Glenn Martin said he wouldn’t change anything about the way his daughter lived.

“The freedom, the openness, that was part of Haley’s thing. That was part of what made her her, and we encouraged it. . . . She was wild.”

At Haley’s memorial service, they set out a bowl with more than 200 bracelets they had found in her room, different arrangements of brightly colored plastic beads. So many people attended, there weren’t enough bracelets for everyone.

At the service, the Martins played two slide shows of photographs, one of images Haley had created of the lake and the world around her and one of Haley herself, many of them self-portraits she had taken. As the pictures of her faded on and off the screen, a song by Shinedown, with rough guitars and banging drums, played. The singer’s voice roared that he would live his life to the fullest, because he only has one shot.

Except, as the song repeated at the end, “sometimes good-bye is a second chance.”

Tears still well in Holly and Glenn Martin’s eyes when they watch the slide show of their daughter, the giddy baby pictures, the facial piercings she got shortly before she died that broke her mother’s heart.

But it gets a little easier every time they watch the video, they said, especially since they’ve found their second chance to help local youths trying to find their way in the world through art.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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