This post is sponsored by Toyota’s philanthropy program 100 Cars for Good.
This month, I’m excited to be highlighting five unique charitable organizations that are making a difference in their community. Each charity was also the recipient of a new car to aid in their mission, courtesy of Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good program. (Know a charity that could use a car? You can vote for them at Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good Facebook App.
Today, I’m talking with the good folks from Kristie’s Foundation for Critically Ill Children.
Tell me about what your charity does, and who it serves?
Kristie’s Foundation is dedicated to the mission of providing support, assistance and cherished moments to terminally ill children and their families. Our focus is on end-of-life care for children and support for the family that loves them. We focus on families located in Southern California, from infants all the way up until the age of 20.
How was the charity founded and why was it important to the founder?
Laurie Kotas, the Founder and Executive Director, was inspired by her own daughter, Kristie, who passed away from Leukemia at the young age of seven. It was Laurie’s experience during the end of Kristie’s life that encouraged her to reach out to other families going through one of the most difficult challenges imaginable: having a terminally ill child. It is important to Laurie that these parents do not have to feel alone during the journey of losing their child.
What are some accomplishments you would like to share from the past few years? What are some goals you have for the future?
Our Comfort Care program, which was launched at the beginning of 2013, has had an enormous impact on our families. Our team of caring nurse aides go directly to the homes of our families, where they offer emotional support as well as assistance with bathing, feeding, and other household needs. They also help the parents plan on how they will cope with their child’s death and the process of dying, including traveling with the parents to the funeral home to make sure that they are being taken care of and are not alone. Once the child has died, we are still there for the families to help them through the grieving process.
Kristie’s Foundation’s goal is to raise enough funds to open Kristie’s Place, the first children’s end-of-life care facility of its kind, nationwide. Kristie’s Place will be a home away from home for the entire family. It will allow the final days of a dying child to be surrounded by their family while being cared for by Kristie’s medical and support teams. Kristie’s Place will provide families with all the help and support they need so their child can live fully and find comfort in their final days. Our focus will be on life!
Which Toyota car did you choose? On a typical day, how do you use it?
We chose the Toyota Prius because it was the most economical choice for our Comfort Care Program, as our nurses do a lot of driving. On a typical day, our nurse travels all around Southern California to help our families. Some days she drives over 300 miles to get to a family! The Prius is also big enough to deliver supplies to our families.
How has winning the Toyota Cars for Good impacted your organization? Can you share a story of how the car has made a difference?
Toyota Cars for Good has had a significant impact on our ability to facilitate our Comfort Care Program. Jack is one of our special 11 year old losing his battle with cancer. He has struggled ever since he was 3. His family is a large, southern, and close knit group of beautiful individuals. Due to this, however, his mom was very reluctant to open up and accept help. She has been the shoulders everyone rests on for her family of 7. This is where Comfort Care stepped in. The visits started introductory and social, and as trust was gained, mom started to open up about emotions, overwhelming grief, and loneliness. Each visit became more intimate and she started sharing fears about Jack dying. Our nurse was able to guide her through this dark time enough for her to start learning coping skills. Eventually, it was time to start funeral planning. After a horrific experience at multiple funeral homes, our team stepped in again, and took the family by the hand. We were able to navigate them through the muddled waters of funeral planning for your dying child…a process no one should do alone. This family gained a sense of relief and weight lifted, and now has time to spend their remaining moments with Jack.
This family was lost, and Kristies Foundation Comfort Care Program found them and gave them a plan.