Me Fine’s Mission is to provide hope through emotional support and financial assistance to families whose children are receiving care at North Carolina partner hospitals. Know a big-time pediatric health hero that deserves recognition?
The Hero for Life award is Me Fine’s highest honor and recognizes those who go above and beyond to help children and families facing a pediatric medical crisis in ways that align with Me Fine’s mission. The winner will be celebrated at Me Fine’s 2020 Virtual event.
We welcome your nomination(s) and are excited to celebrate virtually!
Nominate your Hero HERE: https://forms.gle/UtwZxgLsMoQRcsR96
Stumped for summer fun? Me Fine has you covered! Check out these creative ideas from our Board & Staff.
“We really enjoyed the butterfly life cycle kit (on Amazon). It came with 5 caterpillars that you take care of for a few weeks until they turn into butterflies, and then you release them into nature. Really cool activity!”
— Claudia Cadet, Board Member
“I have been doing a lot of gardening with my daughter. For Father’s Day, my wife got me a gardening toolkit and a toddler one for my daughter. We go out and dig holes, plant flowers and cut the dead blooms off of the plants.”
— San Parikh, Board Member
“My kids have made a ‘pirate ship’ out of cardboard boxes, a stuffed animal ‘zoo’, and we made and decorated donuts with a kit from Rise!”
— Laura Brewer, Board Member
“My teen daughters planned a week-long ‘Cousin Camp’ to hang out with their 8-year-old cousin who lives in CA. They met via Zoom for 1.5-2 hours each day. The girls pre-planned daily sessions of ‘camp like’ activities that included: at-home science experiments, crafts, exercise/yoga, learning TikTok dances, and virtual snack prep. (All activities and supplies were communicated and cleared with their Aunt & Uncle in advance!) ‘Cousin Camp’ added responsibility and structure to my daughters’ week and was a great way to increase connection with family we won’t get to see this year. It also helped reduce some of the demands my sister-in-law and her husband are juggling while working fulltime from home with an 8-year-old and an infant.”
— Stephanie Mazze, Board Member
“We have been doing a ridiculous amount of puzzles. Sometimes we challenge ourselves to do 1000 pieces in 1 day. Others we average about a week. Think we are on number 10!”
— Jaclyn Starritt, Board Member
“Team up with your neighbors! Our family did a socially distanced field day with neighbors (think relay races, water balloon toss), and we participated in a neighborhood scavenger hunt!”
— Laura Brewer, Board Member
“Water balloon ‘fight’ in the backyard!”
— Colleen McGowan, Board Chair
“Our family has been hitting the bikes hard these past couple months during COVID times. Blake took off her training wheels in March and we’ve been hitting the Raleigh greenways. Great way to get fresh air and exercise together.”
— Webb Bostic, Past Board Chair
“To avoid the constant begging for iPads, we instituted the three ticket rule. I made three tickets, worth 25-minutes of iPad time each. The kids get them every morning after they’re dressed and ready, and can use them at their discretion during the day. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. It’s worked great! It gives them power to choose when they want to utilize them, while also teaching them planning their day. The biggest win: no more battles over when they’ll get them or taking them away when the timer goes off!”
— Emily Fera, Board Member
“We got a ping pong table for the garage, and tie-dyed hoodies together. We also celebrated a sweet 16th birthday with a video of happy birthday greetings from friends and family, a car parade and an awesome lawn sign display.”
— Katherine Hutchinson, Board Member
“We have been playing ‘Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza’, a card game that is great for kids of all ages and fun as adults! Unpacking this game last week has added a lot of laughter to our house.”
— Bryan Strothmann, Board Member
Throughout this pandemic my family has spent our time together. We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t been sick and are able to be together. This picture shows what we have done with each other during this time.
— Mary Angel Bastin, Second Hope Shop Manager
“I’ve been taking the kids on nature walks in the evenings, once it’s not so surface-of-the-sun hot. It helps them learn about their environment, see critters in a natural habitat, stoke their inherent curiosity, and give my wife some alone time to wind down the day.”
— Joey Powell, Exec. Director
We hope these ideas inspire some family fun in your house!
Families come first. For sixteen years, the Me Fine Foundation has been led by this value. We serve families facing a variety of challenges independent of their child’s medical situation. Yet invariably, we see families of color carrying much larger burdens.
Systemic injustices such as housing discrimination, employment discrimination, and long term exposure to environmental pollutants, as well as issues around access to and quality of health care, are just a few of the ways we see inequality manifest. To truly serve our families, we must stand up against the systemic racism that makes Black people’s lives harder.
Black lives matter.
Me Fine stands in solidarity against the long history of racism and oppression in our country, and we are committed to doing the work. Below are a few ways we’re taking action and we encourage you to join us.
- Leadership. We commit to doing more to put Black people in leadership roles in our organization.
- Learn. We invite you to join us in educating ourselves to better understand the impacts of systemic racism.
- Support Black-owned local businesses. We’ll be checking out Triangle-area lists/directories that can be found here, here, and here.
- Donate. We will continue to support local efforts to end racism and systemic oppression.
We look forward to working alongside you to continue to make North Carolina healthier and happier for all people.
Joey Powell & Colleen McGowan, on behalf of the Me Fine Staff and Board of Directors
You can help Me Fine raise funds and provide support to other families!
Has Me Fine been a part of your child’s treatment journey? If so, we want to hear from you! Your voice is the best tool to help enable us to support other families during their child’s medical crisis.
¡Usted puede ayudar a Me Fine a recaudar fondos y apoyar a otras familias!
¿Me Fine ha sido parte del viaje de tratamiento de su hijo/a? Si es así, ¡queremos saber de usted! La voz de usted es la mejor herramienta para que podamos ayudar a otras familias durante el tratamiento médico de su hijo/a.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Joey Powell – Executive Director, Me Fine Foundation
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.
- 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.