Marquette University President Michael Lovell and his wife are living their passion and purpose.
They helped spearhead a 3-day conference in Milwaukee. Professionals from all over the world were in town for the "Healing Trauma Healthy Communities Conference."
For the Lovell's it's personal.
The couple helped form SWIM or Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee. It's a grassroots organization dedicated to easing and preventing trauma.
Both were 13 when their parents divorced.
"I think there's something in how we approach the world and how we grew up that brought us together," Michael Lovell said.
Both overcame early childhood challenges. Dr. Lovell's family endured mental health issues that included the suicide of his grandfather, and suicide attempts by his mother. She got help and ultimately was an inspiration in his life.
"Mike's mom was incredibly faith-filled. She was like the only white woman..a deacon in a black Baptist church," Amy Lovell said.
When Amy Lovell was 10 she found her mom collapsed on the floor after suffering a brain aneurysm.
"She was in the hospital a really long time. It was probably well over a year recovery she couldn't talk, she couldn't walk she didn't know who we were," Amy Lovell said.
Such experiences meant both of the Lovell's had to grow up fast. They learned resiliency an important component of their conference.
"I had to find my way at an early age and I think that made me resilient and ultimately helped me," Dr. Lovell said.
The conference will also stress the importance of connecting with others in healing stress from trauma.
"I had a lot of people looking out for me, whether it be my friends, parents, coaches or teachers. I knew people still cared about me and that really helped me a lot," Michael Lovell said.
"Like Mike we had neighbors church people, my moms friends grandparents who stepped in and helped, but we also had to do our part," Amy Lovell added.
The Lovell's mission is guided by deep faith. For a first date Michael Lovell asked Amy to go to mass.
"This is a funny story. We met on a Saturday night. The night I met Amy I had a dream I was going to marry her. I woke up first thing in the morning and said hey will you go to mass with me. She said no," he said.
They laugh. Amy had gone the night before.
But 4 kids and 25 years later they are still going strong. The compassionate couple is hoping to make Milwaukee one of the most trauma-informed cities in the nation.
"I just hope people are inspired that healing is possible no matter what the age."
For more information on SWIM, visit: http://www.marquette.edu/swim-mke/