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Important Updates from Me Fine


Dear Me Fine Friends:

We hope this note finds you safe and well. Me Fine cares about each one of you, and we hope that your personal circumstances in these unprecedented times are filled with health, safety, and support.

As with many organizations and businesses, the economic turmoil from COVID-19 has created real, tangible pain for Me Fine. As of Monday, March 30th, we’ve closed our Second Hope Shop thrift store until further notice. The store provides a significant and steady flow of our operating cash. Additionally, in the spirit of safety and community, and in compliance with current county and state regulations, we’ve postponed our annual Music for Me Fine Benefit Concert, originally scheduled for April 24. We will share the reschedule date with you as soon as we’ve confirmed it. In the past, Music for Me Fine has played an integral role in our fundraising and was expected to raise $100,000. 

What does this mean for the children and families in crisis that Me Fine serves? Honestly, I’m not sure. For the foreseeable future, we’re going to keep responding to their needs as best we can, but with minimal income in the 2nd Quarter of this year, I’m unsure how long we can maintain our current level of support for those we’re charged to serve. The recently passed CARES Act may provide some relief to maintain our operations, but without knowing how/if/when that financing gets in our hands, we simply cannot project for the long-term right now. 

That’s why I write to you today: to share in your pain and to brief you on ours. Rest assured, we’ve been working non-stop on crisis management through an all-hands approach with our staff and board. We have a plan, and as things change, we remain positive, agile, and responsive, but we’re being honest with ourselves at the same time. The next few months will be tough for us, but most importantly, the children and families who face medical crises are facing an even greater additional layer of turmoil. Please don’t forget them during this time of peril: If you’re at all able, we hope you’ll consider making a gift to our work today

Please help us continue to take care of the children and families who need us most. Also note that the recently-passed legislation offers additional tax relief for charitable gifts. We hope you’ll consider helping Me Fine today. 

We’re thankful for your belief in us. With faith in each other, our community and our world will get through this stronger than ever before. 

With Gratitude, 

Joey Powell – Executive Director, Me Fine Foundation

Family Wellness in the Age of COVID-19

May is Family Wellness Month!

At Me Fine, we know that one of the most important ingredients for a child’s healthy development and wellness is their family. In fact, our guiding principle at Me Fine is families come first.

In celebration of Family Wellness Month, licensed psychologist and Me Fine board member Katherine C. Hutchinson, PhD shares some strategies for maintaining family wellness even during these challenging times.

So, what does family wellness really mean?

Family wellness means that each family member has healthy emotional functioning, meaningful activities to engage in, and fulfilling relationships, both inside and outside the family.

Maintaining family wellness allows everyone in the family to stay connected, treat each other with kindness and compassion, and work together to be resilient to life’s challenges. Here are some specific strategies to help maintain family wellness this month and beyond:

Healthy Communication

The goal of healthy communication is for every family member to feel comfortable and have the opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions. It is perfectly normal and healthy to have moments of feeling sad, worried, or frustrated. Being able to communicate these feelings and be heard by an empathetic adult is key to teaching children how to cope with these emotions. Acting out and changes in behavior may be a sign your child is feeling worried or stressed. Check in with your kids when they are calm to see how they are feeling and if they have any questions or concerns. Keep your answers honest and simple.

Quality Time Together

Many families are spending a lot of time together these days! Quality time means putting aside to-do lists, work, and academics to share an activity together. This looks different for every family and can include activities like hikes, bike rides, games, puzzles, baking, arts and crafts, or even making TikToks or binge-watching a favorite TV show with your teen.

Quality Time Apart

There is such a thing as too much togetherness! During the days of quarantine, it is very important that each family member have time alone to rest and recharge. This can be early morning, evening, or even a designated “family quiet time” in the afternoon during which individuals of all ages can rest, color, journal, listen to music, or read.

Structure and Routine

Experts agree that maintaining some degree of structure is helpful for everyone’s mental health – especially when you are home all day! The degree of structure and routine will vary depending on the ages of the children in the home. Younger children will likely benefit from a daily schedule, keeping meal and bedtimes consistent, alternating periods of play and learning, and changing activities at predicable times. You may find that your teenagers fall into a pattern of staying up later and sleeping later than they would during a typical school week. This pattern is actually more in line with teens’ natural circadian rhythm and may be a healthy option – as long as it works for your family and school demands.

Physical Activity

Daily physical activity is critical for maintaining wellness. Be creative in building daily activities to get everyone’s bodies moving – take a walk or bike ride, have a family dance party, or try some yoga. There are many free resources available online to try out a new workout from the comfort of home.

Social Interaction

Humans are wired for connection! Try to plan regular social interaction for each family member. Zoom or FaceTime are great options for staying in touch with family and friends. Be creative with it! Younger children are more likely to enjoy engaging in a shared activity via video, like playing a board game or giving a virtual tour of their favorite toys. Some children feel uncomfortable with video-chatting – don’t force it! They can stay in touch another way, such as exchanging videos with friends or family or sending pictures or cards by mail. Older children and adults may enjoy planning a driveway picnic to see local friends from a safe distance. 

Manage Your Own Anxiety

In order to best support children, the adults in their life need to prioritize their own mental health. These days, that means working hard to manage anxiety about what is happening in the world. Staying informed is important, but it is a good idea to be intentional and conscientious about the amount and source of news you consume. The same is true of social media. Beware of “catastrophic” thinking or worst-case scenarios. Practice gratitude daily and try to find a balance between solution-focused thinking and mindful acceptance. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – most mental health professionals are now available via telemedicine and can help you identify skills and strategies to cope.

Above all, remember these are very unusual and stressful times. Be kind and give yourself a break. Rest when you get tired. Be flexible and give yourself permission to relax your boundaries a little if it is what you or your family need. We can return to our screen time limits when life returns to “normal”! There are no perfect families and no perfect parents. Every day is a fresh start.

– Katherine C. Hutchinson, PhD

On Values

Me Fine’s Executive Director shares thoughts about Me Fine’s core beliefs

“I wisely started with a map.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I’m now in my eighth year at Me Fine. I was called to this position because I understood the need that Lori Lee saw. Since my first day, it’s been an incredibly rewarding ride that presents us with a constant stream of opportunities to make a meaningful impact on our neighbors and our community. Yet, as most nonprofit leaders will tell you, you get so buried in the work that you don’t have time to see what’s ahead of you; think that whole forest/trees adage.

As our reputation within our partner hospitals grew, and as our network of support expanded to allow us to impact more families each year, we at Me Fine found ourselves in an identity crisis, struggling with the ethos of who we were vs. the image of who we and the community needed us to be. One of the biggest issues was that as an organization, we’d been focused on making Me Fine a reliable resource for families and had never really spoken about who we wanted to be and where we wanted to go. Sure, we had a loose, colloquial sense of our organization’s ethos, but as far as real collective vision/values from our organization as a whole? Nope. 

We were on a remarkable journey, but had no road map.

That changed last year. At our first-ever staff and board retreat, we actually wrote out what our values were. Everyone had a chance to speak into the process, and we built out our map. 

Then we used it for a year. 

Now, as 2020 begins to fall from the calendar, we’ve gone back and made a few minor tweaks to our map. We’re still going to the same collective place, but now we’ve optimized what roads we’re using. If the navigational analogy is wearing thin, know that we revisited and polished our values. We feel that they now accurately represent our spirit as an organization, express our understanding of what the community needs from us, and can guide our work for the future. 

With that, here’s Me Fine’s North Star: 

At Me Fine, we have one core belief:  Families come first.

This means:

  • We prioritize family dignity, privacy, and self-determination.
  • We use our mission as the litmus test for all operational decisions.
  • We honor and affirm the lived experiences of the families we serve, in their own words whenever possible.

We hope these will resonate with you as well, and that you’ll join us in support of our community.

2020 Music for Me Fine Announced

Me Fine Foundation Announces 5th Annual Music for Me Fine
Event raised over $90,000 in 2019 to bring assistance to families with hospitalized kids

(RALEIGH) Me Fine Foundation today announced that the 5th annual Music for Me Fine (M4MF) will be held on April 24, 2020 at downtown Raleigh’s The Stockroom at 230 at 7:30 p.m. This year’s headliner is Susto and Jack the Radio will be opening the show. Tickets are on sale now and all proceeds will benefit the Me Fine Foundation.

“Last year’s Music for Me Fine raised over $90,000,” said Me Fine Foundation Executive Director Joey Powell. “That money goes a long way in serving families with children experiencing a medical crisis at UNC Children’s Hospital, Duke Children’s Medical Center, and WakeMed Children’s Hospital. Just last month, we provided more than $17,000 in financial and emotional support to 66 families. The money Music for Me Fine raises goes right back into North Carolina communities via these families dealing with a sick child – one of the hardest experiences a parent can have.”
Food and drinks (including beer and wine) are included in the $65 single/$120 couple ticket prices, as well as access to the M4MF silent auction.
“Our goal this year is to out-raise last year’s event,” said Me Fine Board Member and Music for Me Fine Event Chair Ben Steel. “We’ve got a great night planned with Susto, Jack the Radio, great food and drinks, and more. I know that people all over the Triangle will come out for this great night – while you’re having fun, you’ll also be offering hope to families when they need it most.”

Me Fine thanks Presenting Sponsor Southern First Bank and Headliner Sponsors August Construction Solutions and Empire Properties for their ongoing commitment to our mission.

About the Me Fine Foundation
One in three families with children experiences significant financial burden at some point due to medical care costs, and roughly three out of every five personal bankruptcies are byproducts of insurmountable medical debt.

Since 2004, Me Fine Foundation has addressed this overwhelming need by providing both financial and emotional support to thousands of families with children 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.

Stories of Hope: Clancy B.

Clancy B. shares her experience as a single mother navigating her son’s diagnosis of juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma.

Stories of Hope: Clancy B.

We at the Me Fine Foundation feel incredible gratitude and privilege to provide a platform for families to share their stories of hope during their child’s medical crisis.

Me Fine Foundation thanks Clancy B. for graciously offering a glimpse into her experience navigating her son’s diagnosis and treatment at UNC Children’s for juvenile pilocystic astrocytoma, a rare type of brain tumor.

“Life was good before Ose’s diagnosis. When he got sick in Nov 2010, he started chemotherapy, and things got so complicated. I had a lot of financial difficulties and I could not work full time due to medical treatments and appointments. Bills, both regular and medical, were piling up, I couldn’t catch up. Medical bills were in the tens of thousands of dollars not covered by insurance. People and organizations like Me Fine can support families like mine, especially single mothers like me. Thanks a lot for your assistance. It means so much to my family.”

Clancy B.

As Clancy shares, the financial challenges of treatment can be especially hard on single-parent families. In addition to life expenses and medical bills, the “smaller” costs such as $10/day parking at the hospital add up quickly. Your donation to Me Fine Foundation helps families stay afloat as they navigate their child’s treatment. Support this vital mission today at http://mefinefoundation.org/donate.

Stories of Hope: Angela G.

Angela G. shares her family’s experience navigating first-time parenthood with a little one in the Intensive Care Nursery at Duke Children’s.

Stories of Hope: Angela G.

We at the Me Fine Foundation feel incredible gratitude and privilege to provide a platform for families to share their stories of hope during their child’s medical crisis.

Me Fine Foundation thanks Angela G. for graciously offering us a glimpse into her family’s journey.

“Will and I are first time parents and we were blessed with twin girls, Olive and Rosemary. At 27 weeks, we were informed of Rosemary’s condition. We were introduced to Duke staff/doctors/surgeons and had a lot of confidence in them. Shortly after, we learned the girls were in the 2nd percentile of growth. This isn’t uncommon for twins but for Rosemary, this could keep her from her much-needed surgery and if she did have her surgery, her small size could play a role in her success. We only shared this with immediate family and our employers. Fast forward to today and we are 5+ weeks post-op and Rosemary has been moved to the progressive care unit at Duke. This is a journey and every day, we learn more about what our lives will or could look like. Rosemary is our fierce little fighter and Olive is her loving sister.

We have found that patience is so helpful from others. Patience with responses, patience with our exhaustion, patience with our emotions, and patience with our time. This has been a huge help to us and those close to us.

For me, what I wish others knew or understood about a family with a child who has a chronic/critical illness is that this is a marathon. We will have strong moments, weak moments, apathetic moments, and asking “Is your child okay now?” is a very difficult question to answer as it’s a constantly changing response. Also, know that love, understanding, and positive thoughts/prayers go so far and are always appreciated.”

Angela G.

You can extend care and compassion to families like Angela’s through your donation to Me Fine Foundation. From gas cards and parking passes to ensure that families can visit their little ones in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU), to bill payments to keep households running smoothly despite missed work and income, Me Fine provides support to families when they need it most.

The Tar Heels Team up for Me Fine Families

The University of North Carolina’s Men’s Basketball team met at Target this week to shop for the families of Me Fine for the upcoming holidays. Each year the team chooses a different organization to shop for using the money raised selling the team-autographed basketballs in the fall. This is the second time they’ve chosen to shop for Me Fine Families and we are so thankful for that!

UNC Basketball shops for Me Fine Families

The Heels showed up with 18 basketball players with a budget of roughly $150.00 per person. The players were able to learn from Me Fine executive director, Joey Powell, about what these gifts really mean to the families receiving the gifts. “You’re giving these kids a Christmas,” he told the players before they began shopping. “Don’t take lightly that you are delivering them a Christmas. This may be their last Christmas, so you’re doing very meaningful work for these families.” After a powerful pep talk the players hit the aisles of Target to shop for the perfect gifts. Check out the video on Twitter!

https://twitter.com/unc_basketball/status/1204932126803714048?s=21

The team not only shopped for the children on the list, they also purchased gift cards for the caregivers. The gifts and gift cards will be delivered to the families this weekend. Thank you so much to our UNC Basketball family for supporting the families of Me Fine this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday 2019

It’s #GivingTuesday 2019! Give the gift of gas this holiday season. Transportation is the number one barrier to children receiving the medical treatment they need. Help us meet this critical need by donating gas cards today! Purchase your gas cards online and send them to the address below! BP, Exxon, Sheetz, and Shell are just a few gas stations that have options to purchase gas cards online.

Please mail gas cards to:
Me Fine Foundation, Inc.
318 Blackwell St. Suite 130
Durham, NC 27701

Me Fine Giving Tuesday Gas Cards

Stories of Hope: Jeremy & Ashley F.

Ashley F. shares gratitude for support during the “overwhelming” months following her oldest son’s diagnosis.

Stories of Hope: Jeremy & Ashley F.

We at the Me Fine Foundation feel incredible gratitude and privilege to provide a platform for families to share their stories of hope during their child’s medical crisis.

Thank you to Ashley and Jeremy F. for offering us a glimpse of their family’s experience during their 7-year-old son’s treatment for very high risk ALL Leukemia.

On February 5, 2019, our world was turned upside down. Our oldest child, Mason, was admitted to UNC and by the morning of February 6, 2019, we had a diagnosis of leukemia. As a military family without family close by, we had to scramble to find help for our other two children, Emma (3 years old) and William (then 8 weeks old), who were not allowed to be at the hospital. Treatment started immediately and somehow now we are already 7 months in. We have had several scheduled and several unplanned admissions along with countless ER & clinic visits. I (Ashley) had to quit my job as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse at UNC as a result of Mason’s diagnosis, so finances have definitely changed.

Foundations like Me Fine have helped us more than we can ever put into words. We had just built a home and had a new baby and then to add a cancer diagnosis for one of our children, life seemed so overwhelming. But, with help, the impossible has been made possible and we are so thankful! With a cancer diagnosis, there are so many unknowns and you truly have to live just one day at a time so it is hard to know how to ask for help. When foundations like Me Fine step in, it truly takes a load off the entire family.

Ashley F.

As Ashley shared, a child’s medical crisis is an overwhelming journey that affects every aspect of family life, from child care to finances to daily schedules. Yet the helping hand of a friend, a neighbor, or a community organization like Me Fine can ease those burdens.

This holiday season, we’re grateful to our supporters, who have allowed Me Fine to serve families like Ashley’s for over 15 years. Thank you for partnering with us to bring hope to families when they need it most.

Turning Back the Clock Turns Up Finds for Children and Families at Triangle Hospitals

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

Durham: Nearly 400 attendees filled the Cotton Room in Durham’s Golden Belt on Saturday, October 26, 2019, to raise more than $264,000 for children and families who are facing medical crisis in local children’s hospitals. Me Fine’s annual Gala, sponsored by Centrifuge Media, generates almost a quarter of the organization’s revenues and continues to bolster the organizations it grows.

Me Fine Foundation Gala 2019
The Me Fine Foundation’s 2019 Gala turned back the clock to the Roaring Twenties.

For the 12th time, funding from this year’s Gala 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. Furthermore, Me Fine funds vital psycho-social support programs for families and pediatric patients to help navigate their treatment journey.

“As we’ve continued to grow and expand our scope to meet the needs of our community, the Me Fine Gala remains a consistent source of excitement and revenue,” said Joey Powell, Me Fine’s Executive Director. “No matter where we take the event or what our goals are, our supporters repeatedly rise to the challenge to make the Gala a success.”

Katie Haynes received the 2019 “Hero For Life” Award, Me Fine’s highest honor. The award recognizes those who go above and beyond to help critically ill kids and families in ways that run parallel with Me Fine’s mission. Jess Ekstrom, founder of Headbands of Hope, author, and public speaker served as keynote for the event and moved the crowd to do more for their community.

Me Fine Foundation Gala 2019
The 2019 Me Fine Gala threw it back for some dazzling Twenties-themed attire.

“This year’s event showed just how much success can be had when everyone plays their part,” said Jaclyn Starritt, gala Chair and board member. “Our donors understand what we do and why it is so important, and we’re so thankful for the sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who played a role in such a powerful evening.

Changing Lives sponsors included The Adam Dickinson Realty Group and Carolina Wealth Partners. Cisco supported the event at the Building Communities level. A complete list of sponsors can be found at ​mefinegala.com​.

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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