Julian & River
Mike Fox Skatepark Santa Cruz, Ca.
In Memory of River
by Julie Ross, Director of Imagine Supported Living Services
Our co-worker, River Birchall, passed away on September 10, very unexpectedly. River was a young man who had been a part of the Imagine family for two and a half years. He was a dedicated worker and loyal friend to Julian, who is feeling the loss deeply. River was born in Clovis, CA on August 14, 1997 and moved with his mother, Brittany, to Santa Cruz County as a child. He attended school in Soquel and graduated from Soquel High School in 2016. River had a variety of interests and participated in a wide range of hobbies and activities. He played Little League baseball, wrestled on his high school team, practiced mixed martial arts, and was a self-taught musician; playing the piano, guitar, and melodica. He also loved art, drawing, and ceramics. He was an avid skateboarder his entire life, and had this past year started to surf. River loved nature, and animals, especially dogs.
River's spirituality was an important part of his life, and he spent many summers at Hume Lake Christian Camp and also spent time with his mother on two missionary trips to Mexico.
River was an instinctively respectful and inclusive person, which made him a natural for the work that is done at Imagine. River's mother Brittany has said, "River's gift was to love and see people for who they are with no barriers". He would tell his mother when it was time for him to go to work, that he was "going to hang out Julian" and did not refer to it as going to work. On the night before he passed, River was spending time with Julian and his co-worker and friend, David. On that night, though "off the clock", River was happy to assist Julian with whatever was needed and assisted him into his bed for the night before he left. He always offered to help because as he said "it was the right thing to do".
While feeling incredible loss and sadness, we at Imagine, want to express our appreciation and gratitude for the work that River did, and the calm, dedicated, and patient manner in which he did it. He will be missed by many, including his Imagine community. Please keep a thought for him and his mother, Brittany, who is experiencing a loss that cannot be described.
"I am blessed to know that my son had a career that he not only truly loved, but he thrived at. As a mother, I am so comforted in knowing how my son was loved and recognized by his employer for his gifts. He sincerely loved Julian, who became one of his best friends, and working for Imagine. He always spoke very highly of his co-workers and supervisors at Imagine." - Brittany Birchall (River's mom)
A Go Fund Me has been created to cover funeral expenses for River, with a plan to use any funds in excess to start a foundation in River's name. The link can be found here if you'd like to contribute.
-Submitted by Julie