Funches Soul Forces Foundation

January 16, 2008 7:47:43 AM PST
Reverend Dwayne Funches and his wife, Emily, lost three children and a godson in a fire in 2004.The magnitude of their grief is unimaginable. But they've found a way to channel that grief into good.

This week, the Funches family is taking steps to make sure their children's memories are kept alive. They've formed a foundation in their children's' name to help other children -- the Funches Soul Forces Foundation.

"They are all in heaven, and we are about to do something in their name," said Emily.

Emily Funches beamed with hope, pride and enthusiasm when she talked her about the new foundation she and her husband have started to honor their three children and godson. All were killed in a fire on September 24, 2004.

That's why (the logo) has wings. It's so special," said Emily. "The yellow glow behind it's going to be so big."

Its motto -- if there is a better way, find it.

"The foundation is to give young men a safe haven beside selling rocks, beside standing on the corner," said Dwayne. "There is a place you can come. You will be taught trades, and I will teach the spiritual side."

"I lost these children, but God has a whole bunch of children out in the world that need me and that's what Funches Soul Force is," said Emily.

The Funcheses salvaged some photos of their children from the fire. They hope to someday honor their children and godson, whom they call four fallen angels, with awards bearing their names.

Fifteen-year-old Dwayne was an athlete and musician. Twelve-year-d Cedric Coy Langston was fun-loving and smart, and he wanted to be a lawyer. Seven-year-old Travis loved to read and was described as the one with the big heart. Deana was one and had just learned to walk the day before she died.

"I think about them every day. They are a part of me. Sometimes I think this house is that house, and I think they are going to turn the corner, but I think that's human."

"I am on the battlefield for the Lord," said Dwayne, a bishop.

Their church in Chicago's Austin neighborhood has a new name, New Grace Life Cathedral.

"I was gifted to lead the ministry through sermons, but after the children, I really got close enough to see God had a purpose for my life. And the purpose was to help other people," said Dwayne.

The Funcheses find strength in knowing that the foundation will help their children live on in the lives of others.

"I miss my children so much. I miss them," said Emily. "But God is going to replace them with other people's children."

Investigators believe the fire started in a rear projection TV in their home. The couple is suing the makers of the TV, the company that sold it and the city of Chicago over the emergency response to the fire.

Money for the new foundation will come from donations. A fundraiser will be held Friday night.

Fundraiser is Friday January 18th
Black Tie
At 7pm
At the Skylite West Banquet Hall
7117 Ogden Ave
Berwyn, Illinois
Live entertainment
Donation $100

Donations for the Funches Soul Force Foundation can be made at any Park National Bank location. Branch locations can be found at: