Tag Archives: collaboration

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.

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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.

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

Stories of Hope: Amelia

Spanish Version

Hola:

Nos tomó por sorpresa nuestra tercer hija, en el último trimestre me diagnosticaron preeclampsia, al llegar al hospital me detectaron fallo renal, había entrado en el síndrome de Hellp, ese día me dijeron que para salvarme, mi bebe tenía que nacer al tercer día, a sus 30 semanas cumplidas, pero a causo de la preeclampsia la bebé nació con un atraso de crecimiento y solo peso 1 libra 8 onzas.

Fue muy duro para mi tener que someterme a una cesárea de emergencia, pues no padezco ninguna enfermedad crónica como diabetes, hipertensión, lo cual me hubiera preparado de alguna manera para esperar este tipo de diagnóstico.

El deseo de estar con mi bebe y aprender como cuidarla, un bebé prematuro, me hace ir todos los días al hospital y estar lo más posible, vivimos a más de una hora del hospital, y el seguro no cubre ni el gas ni los gastos de estacionamiento.

Gracias a la fundación Me Fine, la cual nos a ayudado, estos gastos no no son una preocupación, ahora puedo enfocarme más en mi bebe sin descuidar a mi familia.

Me considero una mujer saludable, trato de cuidarme, no tengo ninguna enfermedad crónica, pero esto fue así sin esperarlo, eso me hace reconsiderar el hecho de que a cualquiera nos puede cambiar la vida y estar en una situación parecida.

Que gracias a personas como tú que apoyas a organizaciones como MeFine, estos momentos se toman menos difíciles y podemos ver una luz de esperanza de que todo va a estar mejor.

Me Fine en nombre de mi esposo, mis hija y yo GRACIAS.

Atte: Amelia

English Version

Hello:

Our third daughter was a surprise pregnancy.

In the final trimester I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. When I got to the hospital I was diagnosed with kidney failure and HELLP syndrome. That day they told me that to save me, my baby would need to be born within three days, at 30 weeks, but because of the preeclampsia, my baby girl was born with stunted growth, and only weighed one pound eight ounces.

It was very hard for me to have to undergo an emergency C-section, because I don’t have any chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, which would have prepared me in some way to expect this kind of diagnosis.

The desire to be with my baby and learn how to take care of her, a premature baby, is what makes me go to the hospital every day and stay there as much as possible, even though I live more than an hour from the hospital, and insurance doesn’t cover gas or parking.

Thanks to the Me Fine Foundation, which has helped us, these expenses are no longer a concern, now I can focus more on my baby without neglecting my family.

I consider myself a healthy woman. I try to take care of myself. I don’t have any chronic diseases, but this was unexpected. This makes me think about the fact that any of our lives can change at any moment and we’ll find ourselves in a similar situation.

Thanks to people like you who support organizations like Me Fine, these moments become less difficult and we can see a light of hope that everything will be better.

Me Fine, on behalf of my husband, my daughter and me, THANK YOU.

Sincerely, Amelia

Supporter Spotlight: The Parikh Family

Talking about diving right into giving back! San and Lauren Parikh moved to North Carolina in 2017 and almost immediately found themselves connected to the Me Fine Foundation. The couple had recently welcomed their first child, Maya. In 2018, Lauren and San offered their talent and experience for the Me Fine Gala as committee members. San joined the Board of Directors in 2019, and both plan to continue deepening their connections to the organization’s mission in the years to come. Learn more about the Parikh family in this Supporter Spotlight.

How did you first learn about the Me Fine Foundation?

San was introduced to Me Fine’s Executive Director and Board Chair through his law firm, Wyrick Robbins, a Me Fine sponsor.

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

Having a young daughter, Me Fine’s commitment to supporting families emotionally and financially when they have critically ill children pulled at our heart strings. We cannot imagine anything harder than watching our daughter suffer through a serious illness. Even the very minor and normal illnesses she has had, have been disruptive as we’ve had to scramble to find child care and have to miss work so we can’t imagine the toll that would take for months on end.

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

Obviously the organization has to have a mission that is important to us and we also consider the community served by the organization and how much of the donations go directly to supporting the cause.

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

Loving. Fun. Driven.

Lauren Parikh as a little girl wearing a swimsuit
Evidence that Lauren really did love all things water.

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

Lauren: water sports and activities, especially at the lake.

San: a deck of cards and lots of family.

Sam as a toddle holding a multicolored beach ball above his head
San must have known early that he would have to woo someone who loved water sports, hence improving his beachball skillsl 

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

Sushi (for both of us!)

What are you grateful for?

Our health and the health and our family, having all our needs and most of our wants met; the opportunities we’ve been afforded in life and the list goes on and on – we’re incredibly grateful for all we have!

What makes you laugh?

Each other, Brooklyn 99, our daughter Maya, and our puppy Remi

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

Being part of a local network that supports one another during the hard times and is there to celebrate one another’s successes and joys as well.

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

NC Legal Aid Fund. We also sponsor a child in India through Children International.

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

We moved to Raleigh from New Jersey (right outside New York City) a little over a year ago to find a better pace of life for our family. We’re an interracial, interfaith family that believes that the fight for equality and inclusiveness is among the most important causes of our time.

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