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For immediate release: Thompson GMC-Buick Providing Hope for Critically Ill Children, Families with Me Fine Foundation

Thompson Automotive Group logo

Me Fine Foundation logo

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2018
Contact: Katie Todd; 919-244-5868; katie.todd@mefinefoundation.org

THOMPSON GMC-BUICK PROVIDING HOPE FOR CRITICALLY ILL CHILDREN, FAMILIES
Dealership announces sponsorship of Me Fine Foundation’s vehicle repair program

RALEIGH: Today, the Me Fine Foundation is pleased to announce that Thompson GMC-Buick will be providing $10,000 in support as the main sponsor of the nonprofit’s vehicle assistance program.

Me Fine provides financial assistance and emotional support programs to families whose child has been diagnosed with a critical or life-threatening medical condition and is receiving treatment at Duke, UNC, or WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Nearly 20 percent of the organization’s Family Assistance funding goes to helping families pay for vehicle expenses each year.

“Parents and caregivers must have safe, dependable transportation throughout their child’s treatment,”  said Joey Powell, executive director of Me Fine. “In fact, one of the biggest inhibitors to pediatric follow-up care is a lack of reliable transportation. Thompson Buick-GMC’s support gives us the resources to help even more families combat this additional out-of-pocket cost.”

“Thompson GMC-Buick wants people in our community to have what they need to thrive, whether that looks like a new car or financial assistance for fixing a vehicle vital to their child’s medical treatment. We are proud to establish this commitment with Me Fine and the families navigating these unimaginable circumstances,” said Lee Maynor, general service manager of Thompson Automotive Group.

Caring for a sick child comes with numerous costs that are not covered by any insurance program. Parents may be forced to quit jobs in order to provide care for their child. Unfortunately, bills continue to pile up. When a car breaks down during this time, families may not have access to the same financial resources to make necessary repairs. This is where a nonprofit like Me Fine can assist.

In 2017, Me Fine provided nearly $100,000 in financial assistance to 211 families. More than $17,000 of that went towards vehicle repairs and other related car costs.

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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, visit mefinefoundation.org.

Faces of Me Fine: Miss Barbara

In our series, “Faces of Me Fine,” we highlight the dedicated people who make sure the organization achieves its mission to support critically ill children and their families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Meet Miss Barbara, a former science teacher who has brought her passion and ingenuity to supporting Second Hope Shop and the impact this community-based thrift store has on children and families throughout North Carolina.

Miss Barbara may claim to be retired, but her time at the Second Hope Shop says otherwise. She officially joined the store’s team in August 2014 after seeing an advertisement for a part-time position. While she doesn’t have a official title, Mary Angel and the rest of the staff have dubbed her the Chief Pricer.

Miss Barbara retired from teaching high school science in Wayne County. Throughout her career, she taught all of the science classes offered, including Biology, Physical Sciences, and Chemistry. What was her favorite?

“Chemistry,” she responded. “There’s an answer there. You just have to know how to get to it.”

Miss Barbara wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans standing next to a dresser

She’s applied this same methodology to her role as Chief Pricer of Second Hope Shop. She researches current prices based on the condition and age of donated items in order to generate the appropriate price per the store’s guidelines. Maryssa (profiled here) helps her price newer items.

“I want the prices to be both competitive and to help raise money for the families that the Me Fine Foundation supports.”

Why did Miss Barbara become a teacher? She started at East Carolina University studying medical technology. Ironically, she detested chemistry in high school. But, she found science fascinating and wanted to stoke that curiosity for the next generation.

“Science is constantly changing,” she shared. “It’s important to give students real world examples.”

Miss Barbara and the Second Hope Shop do this same thing with customers at the thrift store: how their purchases go towards supporting families with critically ill children at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals.

The Princeton team looks to Miss Barbara for guidance, leadership, and laughter. It’s clear that this former teacher remains committed to caring for children and families. While it may not be teaching the scientific method or reviewing the periodic table of elements, Miss Barbara’s passion of helping others to see possibilities is clear here at the Second Hope Shop and throughout the community.

Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop is located at 5100 US Hwy 70 East in Princeton, North Carolina. You can find updates on sales and specials on the store’s Facebook page or give them a call at 919-202-0445.

Mission, Vision of Striving For More Remains Strong in Me Fine’s Hands Five Years Later

This month marks the 5-year anniversary of the merger between Striving for More and Me Fine Foundation. Next month will be 10 years since our 9-year-old daughter, Colleen died from cancer, and the experience that led to my purpose. Although it has been proven that psychosocial care improves outcomes and quality of life, many hospitals were struggling to provide this care. Insurance companies were not reimbursing hospitals to provide things like sibling support, opportunities for social interaction, and medical procedure preparation. I began my mission to address the gaps.

Today, even though these services and others are cited as standards of care in the pediatric population, many centers continue to struggle to fund them. They depend on the support of organizations like Me Fine to develop and fund programs that can be used as important resources for their youngest patients and their families. Members of the psychosocial care teams work directly with Me Fine to support financial and emotional needs of their patients. I am incredibly proud that Colleen’s legacy lives on and continues to grow through the continual support of Me Fine supporters, board members, staff, and volunteers.

The mission of Me Fine continues to remain close to my heart. Our dedication to their purpose drives us to continue to donate year after year in honor of Colleen and the other children who experience critical illness.

Perhaps there is a child you know who has benefited from their programs, perhaps your family is looking for ways to celebrate the health and well-being of your own children, perhaps you see the need as strongly as I do. Whatever your reason for donating, you can rest assured that critically ill children located where you live, work and play will benefit from your family’s generosity and my family would be incredibly grateful.

With hope,
Diane Moore

New partnership offers more hope for critically ill children, families in Triangle

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2018
Contact: Katie Todd; katie.todd@mefinefoundation.org; (919) 244-5868

New partnership offers more hope for critically ill children, families in Triangle
California Closets Raleigh selects Me Fine Foundation as new charity partner

RALEIGH: Today, the California Closets Raleigh team and the Me Fine Foundation are proud to announce a new partnership that will benefit families whose children are receiving treatments for life-threatening medical conditions at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals.

Owners Graziella and Joe Marengi promote California Closets Raleigh as a “family-run and family-oriented” business. After learning about Me Fine through their neighbors, BJ and Caroline Fungaroli with Environmental Holdings Group, and attending the nonprofit’s annual gala, the two saw an opportunity to make an even greater impact on families in financial crisis due to exorbitant costs related to their child’s treatment.

The California Closets team will provide the chance for their customers to donate gently-used clothing and other household items to Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop. Located in Princeton, North Carolina, the Second Hope Shop is a way for community members to support the organization’s mission of providing financial assistance and emotional support to critically ill children and their families. Each donation and sale connected to the thrift store makes a difference, as the store provides 20% of the organization’s overall revenues.

“Our team is passionate about supporting the surrounding community, especially in ways that tap into the talents and expertise we have on staff,” said Graziella. “By partnering with Me Fine, we are able to show our clients that we are committed to a mission that has a real, direct impact on people in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, and more. We may never personally experience what it is like to navigate such a perilous medical journey with our child. Still, we can let families in such circumstances know that they are not alone.”

In addition to helping connect customers to Me Fine’s mission through the donation of gently-used clothing and other household items, California Closets Raleigh will lend their expertise and skills for enhancing the Second Hope Shop in the near future.

“The partnership between Me Fine and California Closets Raleigh is a great example of what it looks like when community members step up to take care of each other,” shared Joey Powell, executive director of Me Fine Foundation. “Graziella, Joe, and the entire Raleigh team will help us grow the thrift store’s financial footprint, which allows us to provide more financial assistance to more families in the years to come.”

In 2017, Me Fine allocated nearly $100,000 in financial assistance to 211 families, nearly one quarter of whom reside in the Triangle-area. The assistance covered everything from rent and mortgage expenses; utility bills; transportation expenses, including gas and vehicle repair; and much more. Additionally, Me Fine funds multiple emotional and social support programs for pediatric patients, siblings, and caregivers at each of its three partner hospitals.

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Faces of Me Fine: Mary Angel Bastin

In our series, “Faces of Me Fine,” we highlight the dedicated people who make sure the organization achieves its mission to support critically ill children and their families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Meet Mary Angel, our Second Hope Shop manager, which is a position that her mother held before she took the helm in 2012.

January 7, 2012. Not everyone can remember their exact first day of work, but that date rolls off Mary Angel’s tongue without hesitation. That is the day she officially became manager of the Me Fine Foundation’s Second Hope Shop.

But, it certainly wasn’t her first day with Me Fine. Like her sister Caty, Mary Angel grew up supporting the organization’s mission because of her family’s closeness with Lori and Folden.

Mary Angel Bastin standing behind the Second Hope Shop counter with Me Fine Foundation's logo

Mary Angel Bastin, manger of Second Hope Shop

When asked what has surprised her the most since becoming store manager, she replied “people’s willingness to give and what they are willing to give away.” One of the clearest examples of the community’s generosity comes annually with the Angel Tree program. Me Fine has Mary Angel to thank for starting this effort back in 2008!

The Angel Tree program allows individuals, companies, schools, churches, and any interested group to put up a tree with tags identifying requested items for families hospitalized at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. After all gifts are collected, Me Fine hosts its annual “Hope for the Holidays” days so families can pick up their gifts, wrapping paper, tape, and stocking stuffers.

“Everyone can do one thing,” Mary Angel shared. “Angel trees give people that chance.”

Growing up in a family of eight (seven girls and one boy), Mary Angel saw her mother do exactly that: everything she could to provide for her children. She carries the same conviction with her into her role with Me Fine.

Ironically, Mary Angel had never set foot inside of a thrift store before the Second Hope Shop opened. Under her direction, the store has blossomed: increased revenues, higher quality items, and dedicated customers.

“People lined up on the sidewalk this past Black Friday. In fact, the line stretched down Highway 70. In nine hours, we were able to make nearly $700 on $2.19 shirts. That’s incredible.”

For Mary Angel and her staff, what makes the work even more meaningful is the knowledge that all sales help support families with critically ill children. She estimates that she tells the Me Fine story about 20 to 30 times each day.

Mary Angel with her mother, seven sisters, and brother

Mary Angel has been married to her high school sweetheart for 12 years. Family is a fixture for Mary Angel. In fact, she claims to spend every waking moment with her family. She is “Mimi” to her niece , a name she bears proudly.

When it comes to the Second Hope Shop, Mary Angel gives all the credit to her staff and to members of the community who support Me Fine’s mission either by donating to and/or shopping at the store.

“Everything has its purpose,” she reflected. It’s clear that, for right now, Mary Angel has found hers.

Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop is located at 5100 US Hwy 70 East in Princeton, North Carolina. You can find updates on sales and specials on the store’s Facebook page or give them a call at 919-202-0445.

Faces of Me Fine: Meet Caty Diaz

In our series, “Faces of Me Fine,” we highlight the dedicated people who make sure the organization achieves its mission to support critically ill children and their families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Meet Caty, a long-time member of the Me Fine family who thrives of sharing with Second Hope Shop customers how their support is making a difference in more ways than they know.

Despite the note on her resume that Caty started working at Second Hope Shop in November 2017, she has been involved with the store for years. Sister to Mary Angel Bastin, Second Hope Shop’s manager, Caty grew up knowing the mission of Me Fine and how important the thrift store was in providing the nonprofit with the financial resources to help critically ill children and their families.

Caty, Cassie, and Mary at Second Hope Store

Caty (seated on far left) with fellow Second Hope Store team members Cassie and Mary

“I’ve helped in all sorts of ways, shapes, and forms,” Caty reflected. Currently, Caty serves as the donations supervisor, sorting through the countless bags and boxes brought in by members of the community. She separates out items that cannot be sold within the store due to stains, rips, or tears. Then, she brings the items to Ms. Barbara to be priced and put on the shelves for purchase.

What’s the best part of working at the store for Caty? “Anytime I have a chance to explain why this store exists and what the Me Fine Foundation does,” she said.

Spending time with family at the shop doesn’t stop Caty from spending even more time with her siblings and their children outside of the shop.

Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop is located at 5100 US Hwy 70 East in Princeton, North Carolina. You can find updates on sales and specials on the store’s Facebook page or give them a call at 919-202-0445.

 

Oh what a night: Music for Me Fine 2018

Written by Joey Powell, Executive Director of the Me Fine Foundation

Third time’s the charm, right?

Skylar Gudasz performing at Music for Me FineIt sure felt that way on Friday, April 20th when nearly 250 members of our community turned out at All Saints Chapel for the 2018 edition of Music For Me Fine. This year’s show featured the stellar musical lineup of talented North Carolinians: Eric Scholz, Skylar Gudasz, and Django Haskins.

In 2016, this event turned from idea into reality in 38 days. Me Fine Foundation board member Ben Steel led the charge from day one, with the hope of connecting his passion for music to a cause he cared deeply about: providing hope for families whose critically ill children were being treated in the Triangle’s own backyard.

Me Fine raised a little over $21,000 at the first Music for Me Fine benefit concert. The following year, the event generated more than $25,000. After crunching the numbers from 2018, we are ecstatic to share that this year’s show raised more than $60,000!

What does that $60,000 mean for Me Fine’s mission? Here are a few ways how your support will make a difference for sick children and their families:

  • $1,000 provides enough for about 40 tanks of gas
  • $1,500 purchases 1000 hours of parking at UNC Hospital
  • $5,000 covers the average costs of 40 utility bills
  • $10,000 hires teachers through Arts For Life to provide music lessons

Music for Me Fine is all about our community, so we try to emphasize as much local enterprise and innovation as we can, including in the night’s food and beverage options. Empire Eats Catering served lasagna from Gravy and shrimp & grits from The Raleigh Times.

Craig and Lindsay Rudewicz, owners of Crude Bitters & Sodas, whipped up two special signature cocktails: an old fashioned and a cucumber spritzer, both of which garnered rave reviews. Delectable desserts — brownies, cookies, macaroons, and more — were generously contributed by Daniel Benjamin of lucettegrace. Patrons filled their cups with Shotgun Betty and Sweet Josie thanks to Lonerider Brewing. Local distributor Freedom Beverage donated cases of red and white wines, which paired perfectly with the spring-like Friday evening.

For the first time, all attendees had the chance to take home a prize (or two) in our raffle! Local shops like Larry’s Coffee and The Fresh Market crafted incredible gift baskets of goodies. Raleigh Little Theatre donated two tickets to their upcoming show “Don’t Dress For Dinner.” And Empire Eats stepped up again to package up some of its infamous rubs, spices, coffee, and more from its family of restaurants!

Finally, our silent auction made the nights of several attendees, as they took home a NC Football Club Youth package that included four Owner’s Suite tickets to a July match, personalized Crude Bitters cocktail class, one of the remaining bottles of the Famous Grouse Whisky, trips down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and to New Orleans, and a signed guitar by the evening’s co-headliners, Django and Skylar.

Seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones is what makes this event such a highlight for me personally. Thank you for being a part of the night, and more importantly, a part of the Me Fine Family!

Oh, and did you catch the selfie station? Ben and I opted to take ours upstairs during soundcheck with a special guest:

Ben Steel and Joey Powell in front of Skylar Gudasz at All Saints Chapel

Faces of Me Fine: Meet Sarah Bordeaux

In our series, “Faces of Me Fine,” we highlight the dedicated people who make sure the organization achieves its mission to support critically ill children and their families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Meet Sarah, one of the newest team members at our Second Hope Shop in Princeton who also happened to receive support from Me Fine during her daughter’s journey at Duke.

Sarah BordeauxWhile she may be newest team member at our Second Hope Shop, Sarah has been a long-time supporter of the store. But, her connection with the Me Fine Foundation goes beyond the walls of the Princeton establishment. Sarah’s daughter, Jaylee, has a chromosome 7 duplication, which resulted in her being born with several birth defects. While receiving treatment at Duke Children’s Hospital, Sarah received financial assistance from Me Fine, which proved to be a tremendous help. Jaylee requires frequent consultations with her medical team, so the family makes the trip from Johnston to Durham County at least once a month.

“You never know what life is going to bring,” Sarah reflected. Originally from New Jersey, Sarah moved to Goldsboro about 10 years ago. “At first, I was angry. You read all of the baby books, create the perfect nursery. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Despite the challenges, Jaylee has blossomed into a beautiful seven-year-old who enjoys her classmates at Rosewood Elementary School as well as her two younger sisters. Sarah praised Jaylee’s teacher and the exceptional children’s program supporting her daughter’s development.

“I never liked it when people would say that God gives special needs children to special people. You are just a regular person who becomes special. These kids are what make you special.”

Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop is located at 5100 US Hwy 70 East in Princeton, North Carolina. You can find updates on sales and specials on the store’s Facebook page or give them a call at 919-202-0445.

Faces of Me Fine: Meet Mary Mendez

Caty, Cassie, and Mary at Second Hope Store

Mary (pictured on far right) with her colleagues Caty (left) and Cassie (center) at Second Hope Shop in Princeton

In our new series, “Faces of Me Fine,” we will highlight the dedicated people who make sure the organization achieves its mission to support critically ill children and their families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. In this post, meet Mary, a member of the team at Second Hope Shop in Princeton, North Carolina.

A serendipitous connection via the job recruitment website Indeed.com brought Mary into the Second Hope Shop. The recruiter noted that the store was in need of a bilingual employee. Able to meet those needs, Mary joined the team in 2017 as a cashier and a proud Princeton resident.

She is a mother of two children: Aiden (5) and Anna (2). Me Fine’s mission resonates with her, and as she has found, with her customers too. “Customers share their personal connections to Me Fine all of the time,” noted Mary.

One of her personal highlights at Second Hope Shop is making someone’s day by helping them find that perfect item. “You know, the one that they’ve been looking for and looking for, and have gone to other stores to find,” she explained. “I tell them ‘well, you should have come here first!'”

Me Fine’s Second Hope Shop is located at 5100 US Hwy 70 East in Princeton, North Carolina. You can find updates on sales and specials on the store’s Facebook page or give them a call at 919-202-0445.

For Immediate Release: Local artists Django Haskins, Skylar Gudasz to help sick children at Music for Me Fine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2018
Contact: Joey Powell; info@mefinefoundation.org

Local artists Django Haskins, Skylar Gudasz to help sick children at Music for Me Fine
Me Fine Foundation’s annual benefit concert raises funds for families at Triangle-area hospitals

RALEIGH: No family ever expects their child to be diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening medical condition. Sadly, it happens every day – and families in these situations often find that there are significant financial costs associated with treating their child that are not covered by any insurance or safety net program available. The Music for Me Fine benefit concert, now in its third year, will allow the Me Fine Foundation to provide hope for impacted families.

Two well-known North Carolina musicians, Django Haskins, lead singer of The Old Ceremony, and Skylar Gudasz, will headline the April 20th show hosted at All Saints Chapel in downtown Raleigh. Additionally, local musician Eric Scholz will open the evening with a solo acoustic set. The emphasis on showcasing local support and talent is key for Me Fine. Empire Eats, a longtime partner of this event, will provide the catering while Raleigh’s own Lonerider Brewing Company and Crude Bitters will offer beer and a signature cocktail for the special evening.

Doors at All Saints Chapel open at 7:00pm with music slated to begin at 8:00pm. Tickets start at $55 for individuals and $100 for couples with prices increasing on April 1. For more information about Music for Me Fine, including to purchase tickets, visit musicformefine.org.

“We created Music for Me Fine as an opportunity for people to support an important cause that has a real and direct impact on fellow members of our communities,” noted Ben Steel, board member and chair of Music for Me Fine. “The outpouring of support in our first two years has been remarkable. We anticipate this year’s event to be the biggest one yet, which means that our organization will be able to assist more families in need at our partner hospitals.”

Last year, Me Fine distributed nearly $100,000 in direct financial assistance to 211 families at Duke and UNC Children’s Hospitals. After expanding into WakeMed Children’s Hospital in late 2017, the organization projects supporting an additional 50 – 75 families with help covering costs ranging from rent and mortgage payments to gas cards and groceries. Me Fine also provides emotional support resources for these families.

2018 Music For Me Fine Mainstage Sponsors include Southern First Bank, Sunbelt Rentals, and Empire Properties. This year’s Headliner Sponsors are Environmental Holdings Group (EHG) and FastMed. Sponsorship opportunities still available at musicformefine.org.

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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.

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