Charity Spotlight: This post was provided by Stephanie Kohlruss, Director of Development & Communications at Hope’s Home Inc., as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series.
Hope’s Home is Canada’s first medically integrated early learning centre and has a vision to see all medically fragile children and their families enjoy better lives through integration, acceptance and involvement in their community.
My name is Stephanie, and I want to share with you the story of my beautiful nephew Ethan – my inspiration for joining Hope’s Home. Ethan was the very first medically fragile child cared for by Hope’s Home. As one of his primary caregivers in the first years of his precious life, I can tell you firsthand how much dedication, passion, and overwhelmingly hard work it takes to care for a child with complex medical needs. When I had the opportunity to join Hope’s Home as a staff member, it was incredible to see how many people cared for my sweet nephew – but also how they cared just as much for dozens of other children with complex needs like Ethan’s. Hope’s Home is like a family, and I was so grateful to become a part of it.
The work we do at Hope’s Home is absolutely crucial. There is no other service like it in Canada that can provide the support and array of services we offer to children and their families. We aren’t a hospice or a respite home; we are a place where medically fragile children can come and be cared for in a safe and nurturing environment that can accommodate their unique circumstances. We understand the importance of integration, and the power of children being together. That is why all children are welcome at Hope’s Home – those who are medically fragile, their siblings, as well as children from the community. We work hard every day to keep these children integrated and playing together.
Without our services, many of our families would lose their jobs, have to give up education, and families as a whole would suffer. It is hard to explain how much care is involved in raising and caring for a medically fragile child, and at Hope’s Home we work with the family as a whole to help support all of the family member’s needs.
Throughout my time at Hope’s Home, I have seen families regain their hope
and come back together in numerous ways. Partners, once strained from the complexities of raising a medically fragile child, have reunited. Family businesses reopen and prosper. And parents achieve success that they never would have dreamed possible without our support. It is the stories like these – stories that I have witnessed firsthand – that remind me every day of how important Hope’s Home is to children, families and our community.
In 2010, we expanded our services by offering Extended Respite. This allows families to leave their medically fragile child and typically healthy siblings in the care of Hope’s Home during a Friday evening, with a pick up on Saturday. Parents and caregivers are given a true 24 hours respite from the demands of caring for a child with complex medical needs and they have reassurance that trained medical professionals are caring for their children in a loving, safe and integrated environment. For children, this program offers the sheer excitement of a seemingly typical activity– a sleepover with friends. An activity that for many children is so normal, but for others, something they may never have dreamed possible.
The success of this program has been truly tremendous. Our goal is to expand this service and offer it 24-7 to our families. But, this remains a challenge for us as the program is made possible solely through fundraising efforts.
Hope’s Home helped my family when we were in a place filled with desperation, confusion, and seemingly nowhere else to turn. As a result of Hope’s Home, we found a place in the community for Ethan – not to mention countless other families like ours. I simply cannot imagine what our community would be like without all of the incredible and beautiful children as an active part of it. I simply cannot imagine a world without Hope’s Home.