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Dear Loyal Jacob’s Heart Supporters:
Imagine hearing the words: “Your child has cancer.” The emotional impact is staggering. They tell you that treatment may last for years. Financial worries multiply. You lose plans for your future and the dream of a healthy child. You can’t comprehend what the doctors are saying. You contemplate how to get through each passing day, worrying about your other children. Nobody gets it. Where do you turn? For the past 22 years, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services has been addressing the financial, emotional and existential challenges faced by families enduring the unimaginable. Now imagine how your heartbreak and fear would multiply amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, children with cancer and other serious illnesses need our united efforts.
Today, Jacob’s Heart is serving 330 medically fragile children with cancer and other serious illnesses and 1,447 of their family members in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and South Santa Clara Counties. The overwhelming majority of these children are already disenfranchised by larger systems of care. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we conducted a census of the families currently on service: 79% of our families are classified as low-income status; 45% qualify as high-financial need and lack reliable transportation; 37% are experiencing housing insecurity; and 45% are subject to other major stressors (unrelated to their child’s condition) that have a significant impact on the quality of life for the seriously ill child. This data was collected before the global pandemic hit home; things are worsening by the day. We are concerned because emerging research indicates that stress and low-income status is associated with increased rates of poor adherence to treatment, decreased overall survival rates and on-going complicated grief.
It is on behalf of those made most vulnerable by this crisis that we are requesting donations of funds and supplies to help implement an immediate strategy that will address the most pressing needs of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. With your support, Jacob’s Heart will: 1) assist families of children on our service who are undergoing intensive treatment with rent and utilities; 2) double our deliveries of nutritious groceries and living essentials; 3) provide door-to-door rides to ensure that children arrive safely to critical medical appointments by professionals who love and care for them; 4) increase our counseling and ongoing psychotherapy, online, by phone or in-person with safety precautions.
Please feel free to contact me on my cell phone: 831-239-2015 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can pay rent and utilities 100% to families, no overhead by clicking here to directly support families during this crisis, or send a check to: Jacob’s Heart 680 W. Beach St., Watsonville, CA 95076.
On behalf of those to whom it matters most, thank you for your kind consideration.
Lori Butterworth, Founder and Executive Director
3.18.20: Website Updates: http://jacobsheart.org/COVID-19
Families of the vulnerable children served by Jacob’s Heart have been hit hard by the pandemic on many levels, thus we are taking multiple measures to address immediate and emerging needs. We have put in place emergency systems to ensure the children’s physical and emotional safety. Our #1 priority is keeping families housed and fed: 1) Our board approved emergency rent assistance to ensure that children undergoing intensive cancer treatment who are currently on service with Jacob’s Heart can stay in their homes; 2) We have doubled our deliveries of groceries and basic living supplies – no volunteers, only staff; 3) We are continuing to provide clean, reliable, transportation to medically necessary appointments with Hearts & Hands Non-Emergency Medical Transportation, special COVID-19 precautions are in place; and 4) We are increasing counseling hours by phone or in person as needed.
There is a cascading set of events that are being triggered by the pandemic for families already in crisis. Many parents of seriously ill children were just beginning to transition into their new roles as caregivers, and their family leave benefits have already been exhausted. With COVID-19, our families are experiencing a deeper loss in income; unable to work with a medically fragile child at home. The role of a primary caregiver is already complex, time consuming and exhausts all financial and emotional resources.
These burdens are being experienced by all families, regardless of socioeconomic status, but here are additional risk factors for families who were low-income prior to diagnosis, families with lower-levels of education, single-parent households, and families with additional siblings. These children and families are at a much higher risk of experiencing a significant crisis in the wake of COVID-19.
Last week, before the shelter-in-place went into effect, we opened our Family Center for groceries and supplies, families were in dire need of supplies. Out of concern for their safety, we immediately created a plan to double up on our deliveries of food and living supplies. Since going to the grocery store is not an option, we have increased our regular grocery deliveries, with staff doing the packing and deliveries per food delivery guidelines: hand washing, safety wear and the same individual packing and delivering groceries.
Our Family Center remains open for crisis counseling and deliveries of groceries and emergency supplies. Support groups: bereaved siblings, parents, teens have been cancelled and/or moved to online or phone. Camp Heart + Hands, scheduled for May 15-17, is on hold.
Parents are feeling vulnerable and anxious and are in need of additional counseling. Yesterday, two of our children needed MRIs, we were all set to provide rides and accompany them, but the appointments got delayed because the hospitals are prioritizing necessary chemotherapy are radiation; this causes more stress for parents about the continuity of care.