A couple weeks ago I got an email from one of Oakes' girlfriends, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was Oakes' Speech therapist. She was the one that initially sent us home with fancy bottles for him. She later conducted swallow studies and then helped me feed Oakes bananas and pears and carrots. Elizabeth was not only a huge cheerleader for Oakes, but she was always a welcomed, smiling friend to me.
(Of course Oakes loved Elizabeth, she never had needles or things that went "ouch", she came with milk, and food to play with!)
(Trying out carrots!)
(And then sweet potatoes!)
Since Oakes left us this past summer, Elizabeth and I have stayed in touch. She hosted her own fundraiser for MOHF this fall with some of her amazing family and friends, and she just recently reached out to me and shared that she is trying to get a donation for MOHF but needed a list of some of the good work that MOHF has been up to in order to sell MOHF.
I had been meaning to do this.
It was amazing to compile the list and see all of our work summarized in black and white. I thought so many of you would appreciate this list too. While you are reading the list, I just want to point out that each little bullet point has a rich and enormous story behind it. Or even several stories. In most cases each item represents a very sick baby and a family or families that were desperate, heart broken, overwhelmed, working hard to just get through the day, and because of the donations that we have received from all of you, we were able to help these families.
Here is our Mighty List:
-Providing families with gas cards
-Providing families with gift cards to stores like Wal-Mart and Target for essentials
-Providing families with gift cards to restaurants and coffee shops
-Delivering meals to families at the hospital and to their homes
-Delivering care packages to families in this hospital
-Buying birthday gifts and holiday gifts for patients, siblings and parents
-Paying for hotel rooms of traveling families
-Paying for Ronald McDonald bills
-Paying utility bills
-Making mortgage payments
-Paying for moving expenses of one mighty family as they moved hours away to a city that could offer better medical care for their sick child
-Pampering Moms that are usually standing vigil at a bedside by sending them to lunch, for a haircut or massage
-Commissioning a jewelry designer to make custom fingerprint jewelry of children who do not have much time left. A priceless treasure for any parent.
-Providing mini photo sessions with baby and family. Again, something that will last forever.
-We recently found a donor who passed along a Scottish harp to one of the chaplains at SLCH so she could sit in the NICU and calm everyone with harp music (Thank you, Rowan!)
-We have helped other SLCH families in organizing their own fund-raising efforts
-We supported Camp Rhythm this past summer, a local camp for kids with CHD. A place where everyone in the pool has a long vertical scar on their chest.
-We have just started supporting CHD research that his happening here in Saint Louis.
....and if you were at the auction in 2011 and you held your paddle high at the end of the night to only go home with a lighter pocketbook and smile knowing that you contributed to something very special, I think you will appreciate this.
-We have formed a "Spoil the Nurses" committee. On the 10th of every month volunteers have brought treats to the nurses and staff that take care of these special CICU kids. I believe we have been doing this for 10 months now.
-It has taken dozens of meetings, a ridiculous amount of emails, many sample chairs delivered to and from the CICU, several rounds of votes from those Moms standing vigil and staff, but we have 9 beautiful and very comfortable tall stools on order for the CICU. Each one will have a little MOHF logo on it.
-We have supplied the unit with some educational and developmental toys for patients, with even more to deliver over time.
Along with the list I also have to mention how therapeutic and healing it has been to be able to help families so similar to our. More than once, my day has been turned upside down when I have gotten a call from a Social worker or nurse asking for help. It has been amazing to say "Yes, we can help!" Each time, I think of the friends and family that have entrusted us with their money to do the right thing and help these families. And each time I have wondered where Oakes fit into this string of events, and if he had anything to do with bringing this family to us.
And of course, I have to confirm that not only have we delivered these things, and paid these bills, but I KNOW it has been more than that. We are giving other families the priceless gift of HOPE and showing them the power of LOVE. It has been happening. We have been apart of this beautiful circle of event - someone asks for help, we say, "yes", they say, "thank you", we say, "you're welcome" and then it is quiet again until someone asks for help. Honestly though, I think families have been blown away by the foundation's story and by what the foundation has been able to do.
I will say goodbye now, and end with parts of messages from a thankful family that we helped in the Fall. I think every MOHF supporter will appreciate this. This family lost a newborn son to an undetected CHD years ago. Their next child was also born with a CHD and needed emergent care. The family's child was at SLCH for 6 months. When they took their precious child home they were almost 6 months behind on their bills and were about to lose their home. (Their child is thriving at home today, awaiting another surgery)