After a trip to one of the “campuses,” we wanted to make it official with our signature 100% Open and Honest blog posts. But with this one, let’s switch it up. Although the board is being organized and we have all types of vital contributors, this was more of an executive decision. Therefore, this blog post will strictly be in first person, I…ke.
What’s one thing you see in common with both of these pictures?
The answer is that in both of these pictures I was surrounded by family. As touched on in the Families Too blog post, during my most trying time I thankfully had plenty of support. Based on my experience, I feel the amount of support can make a huge difference.
Originally when I was thinking of expanding and reaching more than hospitals, I figured we’d connect with more Ronald McDonald Houses. I understand that these health conditions are terribly trying on families as well, so it’s important that we encourage those patients, families and siblings too. So far it’s been working. We’ve sent over 13,000 cards to Ronald McDonald Houses around the world and have an official partnership with 20+ different locations in at least eight different countries.
Thanks to you we’re helping me reach my passion point of reaching kids and families who are going through some of their toughest times. We’re sending cards to hospitals and helping uplift the spirits of kids and families there. We’re sending cards to Ronald McDonald Houses, too, and reaching the entire family. Overall, helping accomplish my goal of reaching families in addition to the patients. In my experience as a patient, I’ve seen the utmost importance of families. Over my 20 years of volunteering here are some of my most memorable experiences:
All Done. That seizure was the most touching. You can read that blog post to get the full story. The other day I was connecting with Paige – that’s her real name and she confirmed she still has this picture.
Towards the end of one of my volunteer shifts going around and delivering cards, I was explaining to a grandmother and patient that I was bringing these cards for them and hearing the woman say something like, “Thank you. Thank you. This is just what we needed right now.”
Tired at the end of another shift dropping off cards in the NICU, I noticed on my way out a family holding up their baby to pose in the picture with their new cards.
Similar to the pictures above, the one constant with all those stories is family. Based on my EEG experience I make sure all the hospitals/homes pinky promise to deliver the cards room to room so the kids who are confined to their rooms and/or beds can be encouraged as well. That confinement can be sparked by their condition OR because they don’t have anyone to escort them down to the playroom to go get cards.
With some of the kids in the hospital, them being alone in the hospital/lacking an escort could simply be temporary similar to my first EEG, #CantComplain. Maybe their parents are at work or maybe it’s flu season and their siblings can’t come to the hospital, so their parents are with their siblings. Then again, what about some of the kids who are alone for more than a few hours? Days, months or potentially years? What about kids who are either orphans and/or recently put into the foster care system? Although they’re not necessarily a pediatric patient, we believe they deserve to be uplifted. With that in mind, I’m going to ask the team continue to reach out to hospitals around the world and make sure we consistently reach out to Ronald McDonald Houses, but would LOVE if we all worked together to help reach significantly more Foster Homes and Orphanages that you know have children who could use some cards.
During the walk around the campus it was disheartening/inspiring to hear the story of what some of these kids have gone through. For example, how there was one child who has been going in and out of care for 10+ years, how there was another child who was intentionally burned over 75% of their body, how the orphanage got several new boys right before Christmas, and many other stories. We’d like to reach these kids directly if they were in happy homes, but even more so with the fact that they’re not living with family and could feel alone.
Wow. I can’t complain. With those types of stories I realized that I don’t have to worry about us making any changes to our mission statement (#NoMoreChanges).
“Cardz for Kidz! is an organization dedicated to uplifting the spirits of hospitalized and/or traumatized children across the globe by delivering inspiring homemade cards.”
Based on one of the recent changes, I think we’re covered. I can’t imagine something more traumatizing than needing to be pulled and/or losing your family and living in a separate location without loved ones, no matter how nice that location is set up. Our goal will be to help contribute and make that transition as positive as possible.
Also, not as important, but I already double checked with our friends at Gamers Outreach/Fully Loaded Electronics. They originally created their systems strictly for pediatric hospitals, but they agreed that we could donate some of those to these homes if we’d like. During the tour of Methodist Children’s Home they showed us they had one game room. We would love to make sure that all of the locations we partnered with have at least one of these gaming systems as a way to reward their children for completing their homework and other responsibilities. And don’t worry, we talked it out. For the children’s safety some of the parent’s don’t know where the children are currently located so the homes can’t take pictures of the children’s faces. How it works is that similar to our picture of the patient in Israel they could take a picture of the back of the child OR simply a picture of the staff.
After we completed the tour of the “campus” with Erin, we were chatting about the future expansion of their program. She noted how they want to start a trade school and what they were looking to do for some of the young men who aged out of their foster program. She also explained how a lot of the large children’s hospitals can get celebrities to help them advertise and ask for donations, but it’s a lot harder for orphanages. I was told that both celebrities and private individuals are less willing to associate with these type of organizations/homes. It’s amazing what she’s doing and we’ll definitely make this a prime focus this year. Thinking about how those kids who are overcoming those conditions, definitely are superheroes. Then it clicked to me. Two of the top superheroes of all time, Batman and Spiderman; Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. Sure they had a lot of things in common ranging from saving the world to special outfits, but another thing in common is how they lost both of their parents. Now, I understand sending some handmade cards isn’t going to make the next caped crusader, but I do believe that by investing our time by giving these cards and showing support/love to these kids will help inspire and, possibly help produce, a REAL “SUPER HERO” that we experience in our day to day lives, rather than something strictly in comic books. Thankfully we had a Spiderman card to drop off that day!
To see more pictures and stories, please check out our website www.cardzforkidz.org; like us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter and Instagram; visit our Google+ or LinkedIn pages! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!