Tag Archives: Ben Steel

Stories of Hope: Bristol K.

Despite the emotional upheaval of their child’s treatment, parents and caregivers graciously offer a glimpse into their families’ experiences at one of the Me Fine Foundation’s partner hospitals. Here, we highlight the story of 7-year-old Bristol K. and her mom, Jenny K.

We at Me Fine feel incredible gratitude and privilege to be able to provide a platform for families who are undergoing incredibly difficult moments. Each time you give of your resources and time to the Me Fine Foundation, we encourage you to bring their words to mind. Your compassion makes a difference, as Jenny K. bravely attests in her family’s Story of Hope:

“Before our daughter received her cancer diagnosis life was busy, but normal in every sense of the word. School, dance, church, family time and repeat. Life was full and chaotic at times, but it was still complete with enjoyable day to day moments. After getting Bristol’s cancer diagnosis life has been so different. It is still full, but now it’s full of doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy, lab draws, scheduled medications at home, and always wondering if today will be a good day or not. Cancer takes away the normalcy of life that we tend to take for granted and replaces it with so many questions, fears, and uncertainties. So far we have completed 8 weeks of chemotherapy out of a total planned 67 weeks. It’s a long journey just to work to get to “cancer free” status, then will follow repeat scans and tests every 3-4 months for years. Having a kid with cancer steals a family’s normality. It steals their peace of mind. It replaces moments that used to feel routine, like going to church or dance, with thoughts of: “should we take her today”, “will it make her too tired”, or “I don’t know if anyone there might be sick”. It makes us think so much more cautiously. Additionally, having a sick child almost forces me to be a stay at home mom in spite of having a job. You can’t preplan well enough of when to pick up shifts because you never know what the next day will hold. It adds strain and worry with how to pay the bills and puts more weight on my husband’s shoulders to be at work full time to help try to make ends meet. This results in him missing out on the majority of her medical appointments and chemotherapies each week. To even further the difficulties that come along with cancer, we have a son that needs us too. He is 5 and he needs his parents’ (and sister’s) time and attention as well. We are daily working to keep life as balanced as possible for them both. They both deserve equal amounts of time and love shown to them. We are so diligent in trying to ensure neither feels less love or attention, which sometimes results in pretty tired parents at the end of the day.

Ever since Bristol was diagnosed, we have had people ask what they can do to help. This is such a loaded question. We don’t want to ask for help. Both my husband and I have always been so independent, worked hard at our jobs, and we have been able to support each other and our family well; however, cancer takes freedom away. It makes us need help when we are not accustomed to asking for it. Every bit of help makes a huge difference in our lives now. Food, travel expenses, mounting hospital bills, miles of travel each week to the clinic, and missed work all affect us directly and our finances. Support such as the gas cards and Walmart cards from Me Fine help so significantly. As simple as it may seem, it helps us breathe a little easier. Another week covered; another grocery bill handled… among all the worries and stressors that we cannot control, having some of that burden removed is indescribably helpful.”

News: Envirolink to Support Me Fine Families

Annual financial sponsorship would serve as a dedicated funding stream to provide financial assistance for requests related specifically to utility payment needs.

Durham, N.C. (July 26th, 2019)- The Me Fine Foundation is proud to announce that Raleigh-based Envirolink has agreed to serve as a sponsor for a utility assistance payment program. The $10,000 annual financial sponsorship from Envirolink would serve as a dedicated funding stream to provide financial assistance for requests related specifically to utility payment needs of families at Duke, UNC, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals.

Me Fine Foundation is a local nonprofit 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. In 2018, Me Fine provided more than $22,000 for utility-related expenses. As the local population increases on top of unseasonably extreme temperatures, they anticipate this need to continue to rise. 

“As Me Fine Foundation looks to grow and serve more families, we need strong partners. Utility payments are a significant part of the financial assistance we provide, so we cannot thank Envirolink enough for this alignment. We applaud the dedication to community and couldn’t be happier to have them join our mission,” said Matt Phillips, Me Fine Foundation’s Board Development Chair.

 Envirolink has specialized in the management of water, wastewater, and public works services for governmental, industrial and private clients across North Carolina since 1997. Their timely contribution to Me Fine demonstrates their corporate philosophy of enhancing the sustainability of the communities they serve.

“We’re flattered to have identified Envirolink as our next partner in strengthening the community. They’ve chosen to empower Me Fine’s support of the families that need us, showing a real commitment to a more vibrant region. We’re so excited for this partnership and can’t wait to see it help us do more for families’ utility needs during their child’s treatment,” said Joey Powell, Executive Director of the Me Fine Foundation.

Faces of Me Fine: Jaclyn Starritt

By Dr. Jaclyn Starritt, Ph.D., PLLC
Program Committee Chair & Gala Committee Chair
Me Fine Foundation Board of Directors

As a psychologist who specializes in working with children and adolescents, families are often coming to see me at a time of darkness; when they have a child who is acting out, emotionally fragile or contemplating taking their own life.  I see if every day.  I also hear the heartbreaking stories of families struggling to understand “why.”  

I spent several years of my training working in our partner hospitals and witnessing first hand the helplessness and deep sorrow parents feel when they are not able to help their child.  However, what I have also learned through my training and my work is children are the most resilient, they fight, they look for the good and they persevere.  They  teach me valuable lessons every day.  

I often seeing parents having to make difficult choices, choices no parent should ever have to make. The families Me Fine serves are literally faced with life and death and the last thing that should be a worry is how to keep the lights on or getting themselves to and from the hospital so they can be where they belong.  

As a psychologist, I am particularly  passionate about the emotional support programs Me Fine offers.  I started out many years ago having the honor of serving on the Striving for More board, which merged with Me Fine.  I worked with the founder of that organization to honor the memory of her daughter, Colleen, and ensure that children were being taken care of beyond the medicine.  

Hospital life can be isolating.  Children are often finding themselves cut off from friends, activities and school for their own good but at a time where their life is primarily composed of these worlds.  Helping normalize their journey, giving them a way to tell their story, a way to be heard is critical.  I am so very honored to be part of making that happen and privileged to be working alongside a group of individuals who care as much as I do about these families in their darkest hours. 

This is why I do what I do, to bring hope to families and let them know that they are not alone.

Supporter Spotlight: Vinson Family

Meet the Family

Britt, Tammy, Sidney, Liza, and Knox

Home

Raleigh

How did you first learn about the Me Fine Foundation?

We knew the Lee family while they were struggling through Folden’s treatment and eventually the loss of his life. We were so touched by the Lee family’s faith and strength- their desire to carry on Folden’s legacy through the Me Fine Foundation. While I was in orthodontic school in Philadelphia, Tammy worked as a pediatric oncology, bone-marrow transplant nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Through her experiences, we saw the great need and were called by our faith to help make a difference in the lives of suffering children. So when Me Fine was established, we knew we wanted to help in some way so we jumped on board. Since then, our family has been focused on helping families and children locally and internationally. We are huge lovers of our community and we really want to give back, love, and support the people that make up the place we call home.

What is the greatest influence for you when choosing a particular nonprofit organization or cause?

We are passionate about supporting organizations that directly impact people in need:physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself and/or your family?

Loving, honest, hardworking

What are you grateful for?

Family, faith, health, and happiness

What makes you laugh?

Other people laughing, impractical jokers, friend’s stories, when someone says something that you would never expect

What does being a part of a community look like for you?

Our community is a group of people: friends, family, neighbors, and community members that lean on and support each other in times of joy & need.

What other community-based or nonprofit organizations do you support as a donor, volunteer, board member, etc.?

We give and support many organizations locally and internationally such as Hope Reins of Raleigh; Back Pack Buddies (Interfaith Food Shuttle); 1 of Us.org; Sharefish.org; Compassion International, Watoto Ministries; and local churches and schools. Incredible blessings have been bestowed upon our family through the many years. We feel the Lord calling us through Luke 12:48 “from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”

What would you like us to know about you/your family that we haven’t asked yet?

We are raising our children, Sidney, Liza and Knox , to see the world around them and be servant leaders for those that are less fortunate! Our daughters were able to spend a month (with Tammy) last July in Uganda working with Watoto Church in Gulu. The girls developed a faith based program and worked with 14-18 year old girls in the village in Gulu sharing the gospel. It was a very transformative experience for them and we are praying that they continue these good works.

Vinson family

If you’re a customer of Vinson Orthodontics, please share your appreciation for Britt’s long-time commitment to Me Fine!

Want to read through our Supporter Spotlights? Find them on Me Fine’s blog here.

Blog: The history & hopes for Music for Me Fine 2019

Ben Steel, our Music for Me Fine Committee Chair, brought this event to life four years ago (pictured with wife, Lindsay, above). Ahead of our 4th annual benefit concert on Friday, April 26th at the Stockroom in downtown Raleigh (tickets available here), we asked Ben to share how all of this got started, what he hopes to see in 2019, and why Music for Me Fine matters to our nonprofit’s ability to fulfill our mission of serving children and families navigating a medical crisis.

1) Where did the idea of Music for Me Fine come from?

We suggested and debated many ideas as to what Me Fine’s second signature annual event could be. Organizing a concert seemed like a great way to overlap a lot of things that I love: highlighting local musicians; serving high quality food and local beer; inviting in sponsorship partners and volunteers and doing such an event in a unique space felt like a recipe capable of success. We wanted this to be done in a casual, less formal setting; it felt like a great opportunity to introduce a new crowd to Me Fine and plug them into our mission and other events throughout the year.

2) How has this event evolved since Year 1?

A lot has changed as this event has grown from fewer than 100 attendees the first year to over 250 guests in 2018. Each year the event has grown by over 50% and that wouldn’t be possible without our sponsors, volunteers, and attendees coming back year after year with more help, ideas, and support.

We held our first three Music for Me Fines at All Saints Chapel, a downtown Raleigh gothic chapel built in 1875 that is typically used as a wedding venue. We sold out of tickets early in 2018, so we knew it was time for a larger space.

This year we are hosting at The Stockroom at 230 (on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh). We’re expecting 375+ guests and have added a VIP reception for our top sponsors and key partners.

3) What is the significance of this event in terms of the Me Fine Foundation being able to carry out its mission?

Over the first three years, this event raised more than $100,000 collectively. More importantly, Music for Me Fine introduced hundreds of new faces and families to our commitment to provide hope through emotional support and financial assistance to families whose children are receiving care in our partner hospitals. To effectively carry out our mission as the organization grows, it is critical to educate our community on the need that Me Fine helps support, and to fuel the organization any way possible to help more families in crisis.

Last year, Me Fine provided more than $85,000 in direct financial assistance and more than $73,000 through in-kind support to hundreds of families at UNC, Duke, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Music for Me Fine contributes more than 15% of our annual revenues to ensure our programs can meet the ongoing needs of families.

4) What are your hopes for the 2019 benefit concert?

We hope nearly 400 folks come downtown on April 26 to tap their feet and raise their glasses to Tonk and New Reveille – and in doing so help raise over $75,000 in one night for the children and families Me Fine serves. Proceeds from this event provide the responsive financial assistance and emotional support to pediatric patients, siblings, and caregivers in our partner hospitals each and every day. Additionally, this event provides a chance for new and seasoned Me Fine supporters to meet each other and feel a stronger sense of connection to this community of care.

5) How can people get involved with this event?

We want folks to come – and return year after year – with coworkers, friends, and family members and just have a great time for an incredible cause. We welcome new ideas. People can bring in new corporate partners and sponsors, and find ways for individuals and companies to get plugged in with Me Fine, not only for this night but throughout the year.

You can find more information and purchase tickets to our 2019 Music for Me Fine at musicformefine.com.

Stories of Hope: How Diagnosis Changes a Life

How do your donated dollars make a difference to a family navigating their child’s medical crisis?

Cristobal B. was willing to share how the support of the Me Fine Foundation helped her as her daughter undergoes treatment for a life-threatening medical condition at UNC Children’s Hospital. Marbely, the youngest of her three siblings, became ill at age 11 and started receiving care in Chapel Hill. The cost of parking and gas added up quickly for the family. Fortunately, their social worker referred them to Me Fine, and we were able to provide $100 worth of parking vouchers and gas cards in the effort to eliminate those financial burdens from Cristobal’s mind so she could focus on what matters the most: Marbely.

Similarly, Jacob S. and his family found themselves at UNC Children’s Hospital as doctors diagnosed their two-year-old daughter, Ansley, with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This Clayton family traveled back and forth between home and hospital, putting more strain on their wallets as gas tanks ran empty and daily parking expenses piled up. Me Fine, in consultation with Ansley’s social worker,  distributed gas cards and parking vouchers to the family. 

We are so grateful to the families who choose to share a part of their experience with us through our “Share Your Story” forms. If you have been assisted by the Me Fine Foundation’s financial assistance or participated in one of our sponsored emotional support programs and want to share your story, please contact us at communications@mefinefoundation.org.

Supporter Spotlight: The Dickinson Family

Meet the Family

Adam Dickinson; Susan Novak. Owen, Audrey, Elyse and Isaac Dickinson

Home

Durham

How did you first learn about the Me Fine Foundation?

Our good friend from business school, Colleen McGowan, was on the board and invited us to our first gala in 2016.

What about Me Fine’s mission most resonates with you?

Its commitment to help families during a time of unexpected and heartbreaking crisis.

What is the greatest influence for you when choosing a particular nonprofit organization or cause?

That it resonates with a need we have seen or experienced ourselves in or community.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself and/or your family?

Active, cuddly, explorers

The toy/activity that brought you the greatest joy as a child was:

Riding my bike (Adam)

Swimming with my sisters (Susan)

Growing up, who did you look up to and why?

My Mom, because she could do anything. (Susan)

If you could have any meal delivered to you right now, what would it be?

Thai (Susan)

A dripping hot Geno’s Cheesteak with onions, peppers, provolone and hot cherry peppers (Adam)

What are you grateful for?

My beautiful family (Susan)

The fact that we have the means and flexibility to go out in the world and do fun things (Adam)

What makes you laugh?

Our kids being silly and kind to each other.

What does being a part of a community look like for you?

Finding ways to help others: lots of little ways like everyday kindness, and some big ways, like getting engaged in a great charity.

What other community-based or nonprofit organizations do you support as a donor, volunteer, board member, etc.?

Life Skills Foundation; Durham Public Schools; Immaculata Catholic School; Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Childhood Cancer Research; Duke Colorectal 5k; Families Moving Forward; Habitat for Humanity; Swarthmore College

What would you like us to know about you/your family that we haven’t asked yet?

Me Fine is probably the charity that is closest to our heart. When we had our first child, 9 years ago, he was rushed to the UNC NICU immediately after birth and stayed there for 13 days while our lives we’re put on hold as we stood vigil by him and our dreams for our future family were rocked. As hard as those times we’re for us, we feel so blessed to have been able to commit ourselves to taking care of him and us during that time and blessed for the outcome we received.

During our time in the NICU, several of Owen’s tiny baby neighbors didn’t have any visitors during the two weeks we were there. The nurses told us it was usually because the family could not afford to spend that much time at their child’s bedside. Me Fine touches us because it enables those families to be more present and in control during one of life’s most difficult moments: having a sick child. We love Me Fine!

Music For Me Fine Returns With New Venue, Nationally Renowned Artist

Annual benefit concert returns for its fourth year raising funds for families at Triangle-area children’s hospitals

RALEIGH: Music For Me Fine, the Me Fine Foundation’s annual benefit concert, returns in 2019 with a larger venue and the biggest act in the concert series’ four-year history. This year’s concert, presented by Southern First Bank, will be held at The Stockroom at 230 in downtown Raleigh, N.C. on Friday, April 26th and will be headlined by americana band New Reveille. Proceeds from the event will allow the Me Fine Foundation to provide hope for families in medical crisis being treated at Duke, UNC and WakeMed children’s hospitals.

New Reveille hails from Raleigh and was named by Rolling Stone as one the “10 New Country Artists You Need to Know” in 2018. Their 2018 album “The Keep” was a critical and commercial success and the group has played to sold out audiences.

New Reveille
New Reveille will be headlining this year’s Music for Me Fine

Raleigh-based Tonk will open the show, a band that performs original music influenced by country and western artists of the late ’60s and ‘70s. Tonk has released two full-length albums and toured around the country. Empire Eats will once again provide the catering while Raleigh’s own Lonerider will be the event’s official beer sponsor.

Doors at The Stockroom open at 7:00pm with music slated to begin at 8:00pm. Limited numbers of early bird tickets start at $55 for individuals and $100 for pairs. For more information about Music for Me Fine, including how to purchase tickets, visit musicformefine.com.

“Throughout history, music has offered a space for connection, celebration, and support. Similarly, Music for Me Fine provides a place to gather, meet, and understand how pediatric illnesses create a ‘new norm’ for families in our community. Through this event, attendees become part of the Me Fine Foundation’s efforts to provide hope and support so that parents can focus their full attention on their sick child,” said Ben Steel, Music for Me Fine committee chair.

Last year, Me Fine distributed more than $85,000 in direct financial assistance to 286 unique families whose children were receiving care at UNC, Duke, and WakeMed Children’s Hospitals. Me Fine also provides emotional support resources for these families.

2019 Music For Me Fine Mainstage Sponsors include August Construction Solutions, Oakbridge Financial Group, and Empire Properties. Sponsorship opportunities are still available at musicformefine.org.

###

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.

Contact: Joey Powell; 919-260-1755; jpowell@mefinefoundation.org

Supporter Spotlight: The Cadets

The Cadet family
The Cadet family: Marcus, Claudia, Edwin, and Sofia (from left to right)

How did you first learn about the Me Fine Foundation?

I attended a fundraiser where all proceeds went to Me Fine. Joey Powell described the mission of the organization and I fell in love with it immediately. Serendipitously, Me Fine started working in my hospital (WakeMed) a few months later.

What about Me Fine’s mission most resonates with you?

I love that Me Fine strives to meet family’s needs no matter what they are. The Foundation tries to fill gaps not served by other organizations and gives families hope at a time of crisis. Given my direct involvement caring for families in the WakeMed NICU, I often see the direct impact the organization has on lightening each family’s burden. The relief Me Fine provides fuels my passion for the organization, not to mention the wonderful people that work so hard behind the scenes to make everything possible!!

What is the greatest influence for you when choosing a particular nonprofit organization or cause?

I believe in sustainable and efficient organizations that are deeply passionate about their work and stay true to their mission. As I work with critically ill children and their families, I strive to support organizations that alleviate their suffering and support research and training focused on childhood illnesses.

Growing up, who did you look up to and why?

My mom and grandmother because they were such incredible role models as intelligent, strong, independent women.

Claudia as a young girl, dressed in a t-shirt with giant fruit in front of a background with neon lasers
Claudia bringing her A-game to school photo day

What are you grateful for?

The opportunity to wake up every day and do what I love with the people I love.

The toy/activity that brought you the greatest joy as a child was:

Barbies and their related accessories (ice cream shop, beauty shop, car..)

What other community-based or nonprofit organizations do you support as a donor, volunteer, board member, etc.?

Manos de Ramon Foundation, WakeMed Foundation, Maracas Parent Association, Friends of St. Timothy’s, World Pediatric Project

What does being a part of a community look like for you?

Being part of a group of people who support each other while striving for a common cause.

What makes you laugh?

My children! My son’s jokes and my daughter’s infectious laugh.

If you could have any meal delivered to you right now, what would it be?

My grandmother’s fried fish with plantains, rice, and beans.

What are three words you would use to describe yourself and/or your family?

Curious, tenacious, and loving.

What would you like us to know about you/your family that we haven’t asked yet?

I am from the Dominican Republic and my husband’s family is from Haiti, so our household represents and blends two sides of the same small Caribbean island. Needless to say, we LOVE the beach and all things Caribbean!

Supporter Spotlight: Express Yourself Paint

Express Yourself Paint (EYP) became one of the Me Fine Foundation’s first corporate sustainers. Owned by husband and wife team, David and Leigh Roberts, this local business is showing up in a big way for the broader community. Learn more about this interior and exterior painting company based in Raleigh in this Supporter Spotlight.

The Roberts Family

Why Me Fine Foundation?

Express Yourself Paint is committed to re-investing in local nonprofits that provide services, opportunities, or resources in the Triangle. Like Me Fine, we believe that children and families needs come first for us all to thrive. We want to know our financial commitment and time are benefitting the community that has allowed us to operate for 13 years.

Why did EYP chose to be a sustaining/ongoing supporter of Me Fine instead of making a one-time gift?

As a small business being a monthly sustainer allows us to contribute in a meaningful way, measure impact of our commitment and as the business flourishes, so does our community impact and giving.

Besides the mission of the Me Fine Foundation, what are other causes/nonprofits that EYP as an organization and its staff support with their dollars and time?

In addition to the Me Fine Foundation, we have supported local nonprofits such as Activate Good, A Place At The Table, Bridge II Sports, and Fight Like Paxton. Community service is an integral part of our corporate culture.

Express Yourself Paint is proud to be a locally owned and operated company started by husband and wife team David and Leigh Roberts in 2006. David and Leigh have been involved in the home improvement business for more than 20 years. Since the early eighties the Roberts have sought out homes in need of TLC but screaming with potential and have left their mark. From circa 1910 homes to new construction, David and Leigh Roberts complement each other’s talents and eye for detail, delivering impressive results. To learn more about our team or services, visit – https://expressyourselfpaint.com/

Since 2004, Me Fine Foundation has addressed this overwhelming need by providing both financial and emotional support to over 1,800 families whose child is experiencing a medical crisis. We work with families whose children are being treated by Duke Children’s Medical Center, UNC Children’s Hospital, or WakeMed Children’s Hospital.

We hope you will join us in showing some local love with a one time or recurring gift at http://bit.ly/ShowYourLove2019

Page 1 of 10