News

2019 Resolution #1: Highlighting Intersectionalities

A new year offers us an opportunity to dream big, set goals, and start the work of achieving them. At the Me Fine Foundation, we drafted nine resolutions for our organization in 2019. Thanks to our staff, Board of Directors, hospital partners, volunteers, corporate supporters, and donors, we’ve been able to address the urgent financial needs of families and provide the funding for emotional and psychosocial programs within the medical setting for thousands of pediatric patients, siblings, and caregivers. But, we know there’s more to do in order to truly meet the needs of children and families in medical crisis.

Between now and January 31, we’ll be revealing our nine resolutions for the year ahead. We invite you to join us on any and all of these commitments. You can share your own personal experiences, ask questions, and find ways to ensure these goals continue beyond this month.

Me Fine’s first resolution for 2019: we commit to communicating more about the intersectionality of pediatric illness and medical crisis with other systemic barriers experienced by countless families in our communities. This includes a lack of affordable housing and public transportation options; this also includes food insecurity and difficulties accessing childcare.

Why is Me Fine, a nonprofit focused on supporting critically ill children and families served by our partner hospitals, talking about these issues? Because we recognize that we have the responsibility of supporting families in a multitude of ways.

First, we provide assistance during the most extreme, urgent times. This aligns with our values that families come first, and parents/caregivers should be able to be with their ailing child as much as possible.

Second, we fund programs that equip pediatric patients, siblings, and parents with coping skills and relationships that support their emotional and social well-being far beyond their time of treatment and hospitalization. Trained social workers, psychologists, and Child Life specialists administer these opportunities.

Third, we see a new opportunity for us to shed light on underlying issues that tend to exacerbate further harm on families when pediatric illness and medical crisis occur. Over the last few years, hospitals, health insurance providers, and funders have brought much attention to these “social determinants” of health; specifically, these groups have shared evidence and research on how factors like housing, natural environment, transportation, and education impact physical and mental health and their outcomes. The research shows that until these challenges are remedied, too many people will continue to cycle through the healthcare system in ways that don’t ultimately address their specific needs and benefit the broader community.

This year, Me Fine wants to highlight these “social determinants” in the communities where families we support call home. Through no fault of their own, many individuals face seemingly insurmountable hurdles due to their zip code and other mitigating circumstances. Layering on a child’s critical or chronic medical condition tends to exacerbate an already precarious situation. For instance, in North Carolina’s rapidly-expanding urban centers such as Durham, there are few options available for truly affordable housing. Rising rent and mortgage costs may push families from their homes, forcing them to seek alternative housing with relatives or wait for nonprofit or public assistance programs. This waiting period is when families often find themselves living in cars or end up on the street; some may have to move further away from their child’s care center, thus adding even more strain on financial resources for gas, not to mention the emotional stress of being physically further away from your child.

The good news is that for many of these intersecting issues, local and state leaders are working with nonprofit and community-based organizations to identify solutions and create new systems. Until the root causes that lead to chronic poverty, underemployment, and hunger are addressed, there will continue to be children and families who must endure such outcomes on top of the already-difficult world of pediatric illness. We’re making a commitment in 2019 to talk more about and explore these varying issues, what’s being done, and how you can get involved.

Faces of Me Fine: Greg Rotz

Has it really been six years? I guess it has and what a six years it has been. The Me Fine Foundation has changed my perspective on life. Yes, that is a bold statement, but it truly has.

I came to Me Fine back in July 2012. At the time, the organization was in the beginning stages of a maturation process. One of the areas that required effort and formalization was Finance. Thus, given my background as a CPA, Tracy quickly pulled me into the fold to help support the organization on their newly formed Finance committee.

At the time, I really didn’t know much about Me Fine. However, I do recall vividly meeting the broader board and scratching my head at the level of talent and breadth of skill in the room. I wondered to myself: how did this organization recruit these outstanding individuals? After six years, I fully understand the answer to that question.

Me Fine is unique in its mission. We don’t serve just a child receiving care at Duke, UNC, or WakeMed Hospital. We serve their whole family. In a way, that is more emphatic and unmet than most people realize. It took me one Christmas in July to fully understand the power of the organization.

When you can touch, see, and feel the impact, it will take your breath away. It took mine away because I instantly tried to put myself into the shoes of the families I encountered and imagined what life would be like if our roles were reversed. Discovering your child has an incurable or disabling diagnosis is just the start of a terrible and difficult path. What these families endure over the course of time is unimaginable.

I remember being in the hospital with my son for a double ear infection where his temperature was 105 degrees and required a two night stay. Our family was spared in that instance, and we thought that was difficult. These families have not been spared. The toll of managing life outside of the hospital takes away from the emotional needs of their children. This is why I have dedicated the years and support I have to this great organization.

When my term is up here at the end of 2018, I will be leaving an organization that is strong and viable; it now has the foundation and structure to grow, thrive, and continue to address this critical need in our communitities.

The Rotz family sitting in a booth at the Angus Barn
Greg with his wife Leigh Ann, daughter Brylee, and son Hunter hamming it up.

Learning how to “Disrupt for Good” at 2018 NC Center for Nonprofits Conference

On paper, seeing the word “disruption” doesn’t usually elicit good feelings. Something has been taken off course. A plan has gone off the rails. As a former teacher, we crafted classroom management plans to mitigate such occurrences. But, at the NC Center for Nonprofits statewide conference in November, the idea of “disruption” took center stage, especially in the remarks of this year’s keynote speaker: Vu Le.

Vu Le standing on the stage at the NC Center for Nonprofits 2018 conference. Behind him is a screen with a photo of an adorable baby animal.
Vu Le during his keynote address at 2018 NC Center for Nonprofits Conference (photo credit: HIGOL)

Hilarious, provocative, and smart, Vu is the blogger behind Nonprofit AF (formerly Nonprofit with Balls). This online publication has earned him celebrity status in much of the nonprofit sector. His other points of pride include: Executive Director of Rainer Valley Corps in Seattle; consultant as to how the sector and its funding partners can accomplish their work in more equitable, inclusive, and just ways; a father of two; husband; vegan, and Pisces.

After more than a century of working to address and remedy community needs, the nonprofit sector doesn’t yet have its overarching success story. Individual organizations and coalitions have made incredible strides in achieving their missions. But, the identified gaps that prompted each nonprofit’s singular formation are largely still around. In fact, many of these gaps have grown wider and deeper due to changing demographics and stagnant policies.

“Power Play: Disruption for Good” was the theme of the 2018 North Carolina Center for Nonprofits conference.

At the NC Center for Nonprofits conference, Vu spoke directly to disruption in the philanthropic space. During his breakout, he introduced us to the notion of community-centric fundraising. He explained that such an approach could move the entire sector closer to fulfilling the visions we craft for the world we want.

Before we dive into the practice of community-centric fundraising, it’s important to take a step back and understand how nonprofits have historically approached raising the monetary resources necessary to carry out their missions. Initially, nonprofits crafted their messaging to be all about how the organization benefited from its supporters (organization-centric fundraising). This approach didn’t connect funders with the work, creating feelings of slight and dismissal (and rightly so!). Then, the sector made a thoughtful shift to sharing with donors how their contributions made a difference and impact. Because of their support, the nonprofit increased programs, expanded services, and served a greater benefit to the community.

What could possibly be the downside of this donor-centric fundraising approach? As a donor to multiple nonprofit organizations (yes, including Me Fine!), I do want to know how my dollars helped. But, I’m keenly aware that my gift alone isn’t what is going to alter the game or create a new playing field. Even if I had several more zeroes rounding out my bank account, I alone cannot change the tides to eliminate the systemic barriers preventing everyone from being able to live a full, enriched life. My resources will be pooled with others for the collective good. So, if it’s not just about the organization, and it’s not just about me, why not share how the broader community is moving the needle together?

Vu challenged those of us in the session to be on the frontlines of disrupting the was we donors and funders. He noted that we can still “be nice, even to ATMs.” It’s not about being nice to donors for the sake of making a second or third ask. It’s about treating donors and funders with dignity and respect. It’s about engaging them as partners. The causes championed by the nonprofit sector cannot be solved in a vacuum. It requires a more holistic, community-centric approach to eliminate social imbalances and inequities. It’s not about our individual mission; it’s about the collective good.

How does community-centric fundraising upend current development norms? Vu and other fundraisers of color crafted 9 Principles of Community-Centric Fundraising to offer a different take from the ingrained donor-centric model. Some of these proposals seem almost counter-intuitive to our professional training and expectations. Wait, sometimes I should advocate funding opportunities of other nonprofits or community-based organizations rather than my own? Hold up: I should push back on donors? Why should fundraising work be centered in Race, Equity, and Social Justice? This organization’s work has nothing to do with that type of work!

The truth is that all nonprofit work connects back to Race, Equity, and Social Justice. Intentional and unintentional decisions are what has led to holes that nonprofits seek to fill and resurface. Throughout the history of the United States, individuals in power used race as a proxy to determine who would benefit and who would be left out. Yes, other identifiers, including gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, citizen status, and others have also been used. However, across the board, race remains the number one determinant in a person’s outcome in America 2018, whether we’re talking about wealth and income; educational attainment; housing; jobs/employment; or access to healthcare.

In the vein of equity, we as nonprofit professionals have the opportunity to “see and treat one another not as competitors (for the most part), but as critical partners with the common mission of strengthening the community.” We can operate from the mindset of abundance, not of scarcity. This is far more than a mere one-time collaboration. This is an intentional commitment to lift up each other each and every day; to recognize and see ourselves as individual parts of a broader machine designed to create better outcomes across the board.

The ethos of the Me Fine Foundation mirrors this holistic approach. When it comes to serving critically ill children and families, there have to be supports available in the short and long-term. Providing assistance for pressing financial matters, whether housing payments, utility bills, gas, groceries, parking expenses, are ways to meet families’ needs in the short-term. This financial support could also take on a more long-term view; however, the emotional and pyschosocial support programs we fund in our partner hospitals speaks to this investment more strongly.

But, it’s not just Me Fine donors who try to help families navigating illness. The Ronald McDonald House of Durham & Wake and in Chapel Hill; SECU Family House; Love Is Bald; Alex’s Lemonade Stand; Be Loud Sophie; Fight Like Paxton; Headbands of Hope’ Just tRYAN It; Meg’s Smile; Zach’s Toy Chest; Super Cooper’s Little Red Wagon; Arts For Life; The Monday Life.

Shall I go on?

Additionally, countless other nonprofits touch on issues that directly impact the lives of families we support. Access to affordable housing; workers’ rights; children’s healthcare; environmental justice; public transportation; predatory lending. These intersect with our work daily. Under the principles of community-centric fundraising, we at Me Fine need to be lifting up the leaders and organizations who focus on these efforts. We want to empower and educate our donors to see the connections across multiple causes.

In reflection of what I took away from this session and shift in thinking, I also want us at Me Fine to do a better job in recognizing and appreciating the value of people’s time. Since its inception in 2004, Me Fine has relied heavily on the kindness of family members, friends, and neighbors to drum up the resources for families. The organization of today has more infrastructure than it did back then; but, the willingness of individuals to lend their expertise, open their networks, or roll up their sleeves to assist continues. Time is a finite resource, and whether a person is a volunteer or paid staff, their time matters.

I’m excited to see how we at Me Fine can incorporate community-centric fundraising into how we operate moving forward. All of us benefit from strong, resilient communities. Expect to hear more from us on how you are helping to build and shape those communities as well as learn about other organizations who are doing the same.

Written by Katie Todd, Development Director with the Me Fine Foundation.

Faces of Me Fine: Fall 2018 Interns

Once again, the Me Fine Foundation had the fortune to partner with Mindy Sopher’s Nonprofit & Leadership Development (COMM 466) class at North Carolina State University during the fall 2018 semester. Rima Patel, Abby Haywood, and Sophie Ritchie became a part of our team in mid-August. 

Nonprofit Leadership and Development “is a service-learning course in which students will be expected to make a 20-hour commitment to service in a local nonprofit organization. Students will critically examine theories of communication and leadership with concentration on issues pertaining to nonprofits such as working with executive boards, volunteer management, and resource development.”

Each student managed their own project over the course of the three months. Rima conducted research so Me Fine can better understand the underlying issues impacting families the organization serves through the Financial Assistance Program. Sophie built out profiles using publicly-available information so we can better understand the motivations, interests, and behaviors of individuals who support our work. Abby helped us to catalog the hundreds of varying diagnoses we have received and then identify potential pharmaceutical prospects whose treatments focus on those very critical and chronic medical conditions.

We asked each of them to share what they learned from their time with us, in their class, and about the nonprofit sector. Check out their responses below:

Rima Patel

“Working with the Me Fine Foundation, I’ve learned a lot about what values are important to me. Me Fine embodies so many great qualities, like transparency, prioritizing relationships, and having people who genuinely care about the cause, that I hope to bring with me throughout my career. The course taught me that no organization is perfect and that there is always room to grow and improve, and Me Fine has proven that good leaders are those that constantly aim to do that.” 

Rima Patel

“While working with the Me Fine Foundation, the main thing that I learned is that despite differing backgrounds, educational or career paths, or changes in someone’s life; you can always find something that you are passionate about. Joey, Meredith, and Katie all had different paths that somehow led them to the Me Fine Foundation. This gives me hope that I will one day find my passion and be able to contribute to helping a cause that I am passionate about. Being a premature child myself, the research I did with Me Fine really hit home. I am beyond grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with such selfless and caring people, while also being able to work towards something that I genuinely care about. I learned that Me Fine has accomplished many things and been able to help many families, however with the recent expansion of their board I believe that Me Fine can accomplish so much more. I believe now is a very pivotal time for the Me Fine Foundation and am beyond excited to see what comes next. I hope to continue research for Me Fine to help towards finding more treatments for patients.”

Abby Haywood

“During my time working with the Me Fine Foundation, I learned the basic components of a nonprofit organization. I learned how these aspects such as the mission and methods all connect to one another; each plays a major role in the future of the agency. With my time in this class, I became more aware of the organizations in my community and fluent with the work of a nonprofit.”

Sophie Ritchie

We wish each of them all of the best in their continued studies as well as the personal and professional opportunities to come! You can see what recommendations they provided us during their final presentation by reviewing their presentation here.

For Immediate Release: New Orleans Night Raises $220k for Critically Ill Children, Families at Triangle Hospitals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2018

New Orleans Night Raises $220k for Critically Ill Children, Families at Triangle Hospitals

Event supports Me Fine Foundation’s mission to provide financial assistance, emotional support

RALEIGH: More than 375 attendees filled the two floors of the City Club in downtown Raleigh last night to raise more than $220,000 for critically ill children and families served by the Me Fine Foundation at the nonprofit’s 2018 Gala. Me Fine’s annual Gala generates nearly 30 percent of the organization’s revenues.

In its 11th year, funding from this year’s Gala, sponsored by Centrifuge Media, will provide financial assistance and emotional support to families with children receiving treatment at WakeMed, UNC, or Duke Children’s Hospitals. Me Fine assists with expenses incurred after a child’s diagnosis which can accumulate throughout the duration of treatment: hospital parking, gas, and meals. Additionally, the organization assists families with ongoing major life expenses where a lack of payment may put a family at risk for eviction, food insecurity, or utility disconnection.

“Our annual Gala ensures that we can meet the constant flow of referrals from our hospital partners to address the individual needs of families in crisis,” said Joey Powell, executive director. “Through the generous outpouring of support from attendees at last night’s event, we will be able to do even more for families today and in the future.”

Dr. Jim Helm of WakeMed Health & Hospitals received the 2018 “Hero For Life” Award, which is Me Fine’s highest honor. The award recognizes those who go above and beyond to help critically ill kids and families in ways that align with Me Fine’s mission. Dr. Benny Joyner, Division Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and the Clinical Director of the Clinical Skills and Patient Simulation Center at the NC Children’s Hospital, moved the crowd with his first-hand experiences working with children for the majority of his career.

“This year’s event was a powerful testament to our community’s shared values,” said Colleen McGowan, gala Chair and board member. “People recognize the difference that their dollar can make. We’re grateful to all of our sponsors and attendees, as well as all those who invested in the event from afar.”

Changing Lives sponsors included Carolina Wealth Partners, Thompson GMC-Buick, and Blue Water Spa. Sunbelt Rentals supported the event at the Building Communities level. The full list of sponsors can be found at mefinegala.com.

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Me Fine Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring families whose children face a devastating medical crisis are able to receive financial assistance, emotional support and other necessary resources to sustain the loss of income due to the dramatic change in lifestyle while undergoing treatment at Duke, UNC, or WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. For more information, please call (919) 202-0086 or visit mefinefoundation.org.

Critically Ill Children Receive ‘Suite’ Deal with ‘Canes, Cole

Renewed partnership with Me Fine Foundation to benefit families at Triangle-area hospitals

Building on the success of last season’s partnership, the Carolina Hurricanes and former Hurricanes player and team ambassador Erik Cole will once again join the Me Fine Foundation to provide families of critically ill children a suite to all Hurricanes home games for the 2018 – 2019 season.

Landon and his friends at the Carolina Hurricanes game, along with members of the Storm Squad

Cole recognizes the reality these children and parents face on a daily basis as they endure treatments for life-threatening medical conditions. For him, this partnership centers around providing a dedicated time and space for families to have a night for themselves.

“This is all about giving the child a chance to have fun. This is also about giving parents the chance to see their child get to be a kid again.”

Cole will donate the 14-person suite, which includes food and beverage, parking passes and a private bathroom, which is optimal for patients with compromised immune systems. Cole, who serves as the Hurricanes team ambassador, played 892 career NHL games with the Hurricanes, Oilers, Canadiens, Stars and Red Wings. He recorded 532 points (265g, 267a) in his career and captured the Stanley Cup championship with the Hurricanes in 2006. The Oswego, NY, native appeared in 557 career games with Carolina, and ranks in the top 10 in franchise history in games played, points (363), hat tricks (5) and shorthanded goals (8).

Reflecting on this renewed partnership for the 2018 – 2019 season, Cole responded that this decision came with zero hesitations: “If there is something you can do to lessen the burden on families in these situations, then why would you not want to do it?”

“Erik really has come to embody what Me Fine is about: He’s using his resources to directly make a profound positive impact on the children in our community who are stricken with chronic illness and facing a difficult treatment path.” Me Fine Foundation Executive Director Joey Powell said. “Even after hockey, he’s still the consummate teammate.”

Since 2004, the Me Fine Foundation has provided both financial and emotional support to over 1,500 critically ill children and their families. Me Fine works with families from across North Carolina whose children are being treated by Duke Children’s Medical Center, UNC Children’s Hospital, or WakeMed Children’s Hospital. The organization benefits individuals of every race, diagnosis, religious affiliation and economic status. The Me Fine Foundation is a previous Carolina Hurricanes Foundation grant recipient and has received $25,000 in Game Changer Grants since 2014.

The Carolina Hurricanes Foundation strives to meet the health and educational needs of children, with a focus on underserved populations, and to strengthen youth hockey in our community. During the 2017-18 season, the Foundation donated a total of $495,000 in cash grants to 24 different children’s charities and youth hockey organizations in North Carolina. In 2018, the Kids ‘N Community Foundation was rebranded as the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation to further align with the team and the shared mission to make a positive, collective impact in the community.

How Me Fine Has Grown

I first heard about the Me Fine Foundation back in mid-2011. I was serving on my then-employer’s internal foundation board, a pass-through fundraising group that supported various charities as requested by our colleagues. I’d reached out to a friend/fraternity brother, asking him to support a golf-a-thon that I was playing in to benefit a Florida foundation that provides financial support for families with children fighting brain cancer. Josh Swindell, a longtime Me Fine board member and then Board Chair, said to me “If you like that Foundation, I need to tell you about Me Fine.” By the end of lunch, I was signed up to join the Me Fine Board of Directors the following January.

There are many deserving organizations here in the Triangle, but few I’ve found whose mission and purpose is so clear. Children get sick through no fault of their own. Insurance helps cover the costs of treatment, and there are many foundations providing research grants towards finding better ways to diagnose, treat, and even cure some terrible diseases. But what about the cost of receiving care? Driving to and from the hospital; taking time off work to be with your child; eating meals out and staying at hotels just so you can keep family together. Or the emotional toll a serious illness can take on the child, their siblings, parents, and extended families: Who helps with that?

Me Fine does.

I’m blessed to have two beautiful, healthy children. We’ve never spent a night in the hospital, and I hope we never have to. The truth is: I have a hard time even conceiving what it would be like if one of them received a serious diagnosis – the anxiety and fear and desperation. Add to that financial stress, and it’s truly unimaginable.

Unfortunately, families face that every day at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. One of those was the Lee family. You may be familiar with Folden’s story, and that of his amazing mother, Lori Lee. Me Fine’s name recalls young Folden’s answer when asked how he was doing today, before he ultimately lost his battle with leukemia. Our mission represents Lori’s selfless vision – solving problems faced by the families she met during Folden’s treatment.

Lori is the most altruistic, inspiring person I’ve ever known. She’s lost a son to leukemia. She’s fought and beaten cancer multiple times herself. She’s been a patient advocate, a grief counselor, a fundraiser, and public speaker. All of this in hopes of making life a little easier for families she may never meet. During my six years serving on our board, my primary purpose has been to ensure that Lori’s hard work and determination to help these families can continue long after her and my time on the board has passed.

To that end, I’m quite proud of what’s been accomplished during my tenure. Our staff has expanded and is well-equipped to meet Me Fine’s evolving needs. Our board is stronger, and we’ve created more opportunities to leverage non-board member contributions through our committee structure. Our resources have grown; our annual budget today is more than double what it was in 2012 (thanks to generous supporters like those reading this letter). And as a Foundation, we’ve matured – what once was a hands in the dirt, “little engine that could,” has evolved into a highly-regarded, well known nonprofit here in our community.

At the same time, the need for what we do has also grown. We served more families in 2017 than any year before, and are on track to serve many more in 2018. We expanded into WakeMed Children’s Hospital,and are supporting more emotional support programs than at any time in our history.


Jake and Murray
Jake and Murray enjoying the evening at Music For Me Fine 2018

I hope there will come a day when Me Fine is no longer needed, when childhood disease is a thing of the past, and families never face the same tragedy that Lori and her family did with Folden. But, that day is not today and is unlikely to be tomorrow. Until then, I’ll continue to strongly support Me Fine with my time, energy, and financial contributions. My time on the board may be coming to an end, but my passion for Me Fine has never been stronger.

Thank you to Me Fine – our board members, our staff, and our supporters – for the opportunity to help shape and grow such an amazing cause. It has truly been among the most rewarding experiences of my life. And thank you in advance on behalf of all the families who we will serve in the months and years ahead through your continued hard work and dedication. The best is yet to come.

Jake Connors has served six years on the Me Fine Foundation Board of Directors, including Board Chair in 2016. Currently, he chairs the Development Committee. Outside of Me Fine, Jake is a Senior Director with Compass Financial Partners.

In Their Words: Brandon’s Story

The ability to share our stories allows us to connect with each other and discover that we often have more in common than we might think. We at Me Fine have begun to ask families if they would be willing to allow us a glimpse into their current lives as their child undergoes treatment for a critical medical condition. It is our honor and privilege to provide such a platform for these families, and we’re grateful for their courage in putting pen to paper and inviting us all in to their world during such a difficult time. 

In Their Words: Brandon’s Story

Our life was like any other. Normal, hectic, and fun.

However, in the midst of our lives, our oldest daughter started doing things that weren’t like her: getting tired, not wanting to run with friends. Once we got the official diagnosis (B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia), it was punch in the gut.

Image of stethoscope on gray table

The pause button, in a lot of ways, has been hit in our lives. We make the majority of our decisions now based on what’s best in terms of her treatment, her exposure to anyone else (to keep her from being sick), and what resources we have to cover what we need.

There are so many things that I could say but getting financial support and encouragement is a big one because there are a lot of incidentals and needs that come up that many have helped us with. Gas to and from; items at the store; food: all are significant when shuffling back and forth to the hospital.

Taking care of vehicles, having someone to help with the small things so we can focus on the big things, which is our daughter and beating Leukemia. Those who have helped us say it’s a really small thing, but no. It’s a very big deal to us! We are so blessed and thankful to God for those who help us in any way.

Story authored by Brandon, whose daughter is currently receiving treatment for B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at UNC Children’s Hospital. Their family lives in Raleigh. To make a donation to ensure families like Brandon’s receive the financial assistance and emotional supports they need throughout their journey, click here.

 

What is #MeFineCares?

On May 13th, the Me Fine Foundation launched a special campaign that we called #MeFineCares. It was no coincidence that the campaign’s start date coincided with Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a time when many of us express gratitude for the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, spouses, and other caregivers who have shaped our lives for the better.

Caregivers. We hear that word in our vernacular, but how often do we take stock of what the word truly means? It is a role that literally means to “give care.” We may describe a person as “caring” to reflect their generous spirit. But, caring is more than an adjective. To care is to take action; it encapsulates the effort of doing something.

When your child receives a diagnosis of a serious medical condition, your role as a caregiver takes on a whole new meaning. Additional stressors and anxieties often build. This can put parents, who are already doing whatever they can to raise their child to be a good person, in a perpetual state of fear. Some parents may experience guilt. We’re conditioned to believe that it is our job to protect our child. How could this happen? What did we do wrong?

The answer is nothing. Life-threatening medical conditions often come with no warning. Without knowing what’s next, parents forge ahead for their child and the rest of the family. This can come at the peril of their own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This can also take a toll on the household’s financial health.

Based on the personal experiences of our founder – Lori – and the founder of Striving For More – Diane – which Me Fine acquired in 2013, it became crystal clear that caregivers needed more support than they were currently receiving in the healthcare setting. Assistance can come as payments for vehicle repairs so families have reliable transportation to get to and from the hospital. Help can be in the form of a dedicated support group for parents whose infants are receiving treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). Caring looks like providing families with the means so they can stay closer to the hospital, whether in a Ronald McDonald House or a long-term stay hotel. Closer shelter to the hospital allows families to be present with their child longer and more frequently.

This is the crux of the #MeFineCares campaign. Each dollar raised through June 30th will be put towards providing care for the resilient caregivers in the families we serve. Me Fine remains committed to providing each family with the assistance they have identified. We work together with hospital social workers on each referral and fulfill the request directly to the third party. Our goal is to avoid adding any additional burdens or red tape for families, so they can focus their attention on what really matters.

We set an ambitious goal to raise an additional $25,000 for assistance during our #MeFineCares campaign. With fewer than 24 hours left, we’re still short of that goal. But, with your willingness to show care, we can not only meet it but exceed it. That’s not a win for Me Fine: That’s a win for critically ill children, their caregivers, and our broader communities. Make your impact today: http://bit.ly/MeFineCares2018

Supporter Spotlight: Bomani Jones

“When you have more than you need, you have a duty to do what you can for both the people you know and for strangers.”

This is one of the underlying principles that guides Bomani (Bo) Jones in his approach to philanthropy.

You may have heard of Bo – or at least heard his voice – from his career on the radio and now in the podcast world. His educational pursuits first brought him to the Triangle; his initial career kept him here. He first met Joey Powell, Me Fine’s current Executive Director, at their first “office” jobs at ESPN.

Bomani Jones

Photo by Rodrigo Varela / ESPN Images

Since his initial days hosting The Three Hour Lunch Break and Sports Saturday with Bomani Jones in Raleigh and then launching his own show from Durham (The Morning Jones), Bo’s broadcasting career took him south of the Tar Heel state to Florida and most recently transplanted him in the Northeast. Still, Bo’s heart remains tied to the Triangle region.

“The Triangle was the only place I chose to live,” Bo noted. “Even after I’ve been gone for years, I still maintain a strong personal connection to the community.”

One way that Bo has maintained that relationship is by supporting the mission of the Me Fine Foundation. While his first introduction to the organization came about because of working with Joey, Bo felt like his contributions were having a clear impact on people’s lives.

“I know that Me Fine is paying someone’s light bill or providing a hotel room so a family can stay close to the hospital. That individual support gives a family in crisis immediate assistance, which is important to me. Sometimes, causes are so big and complex that it doesn’t feel like you as a donor can make a difference. Me Fine shows me how my gift translates into something tangible and real for families dealing with such unimaginable situations.”

With a background and multiple degrees in Economics, Bo’s career has taken him down a slightly different path now as the host of his latest show High Noon (on ESPN Radio with co-host Pablo Torre) as well as the The Right Time podcast. Yet, Bo’s wish to participate in the public commentary space has come to fruition. Asked what the biggest conception people hold about working on a radio show, Bo offered that working as a radio broadcaster is a lot of work.

“We don’t just show up and start talking each day. You have to put in a lot of hours to prepare for a three hour program. And, you always have to be up. There isn’t much wiggle room for an off or bad day. But, that helps me to stay focused on doing the best I can every day.”

It is clear to use that Bo’s mindset of doing all he can to be there for his community transcends his show and spills over into his role as a Me Fine supporter.

Are you interested in being profiled for a Supporter Spotlight segment? Please contact Katie Todd at katie.todd@mefinefoundation.org. A big thank you to Bomani Jones for not only his financial support but his willingness to share his story! If you would like to become a Me Fine supporter, you can make a one-time gift or join as a monthly sustainer here.

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