There’s So Much I Didn’t Know
I have been blessed in my career to have had some amazing jobs. I spent many years working in the non-profit sector. I’ve coordinated large events, worked in a cancer treatment center, and managed a senior/assisted living community. For the most part, the majority of my professional life has been spent in settings where I felt like the work, I was doing had value. So, when I made the decision a couple of years ago to “retire”; it didn’t take long before the feeling that I was somehow worth-less, started creeping in. I missed working, but more specifically . . . I missed doing meaningful work.
I started looking for opportunities and was thrilled when I was hired for the position of Foundation Assistant with the Olivia Caldwell Foundation! I began working for the OCF in March of this year.
Being the “new kid” is always a bit intimidating, but I have been welcomed warmly by the other members of the staff and by the OCF Board of Directors and have found a great mentor and friend in Katelin Gitthens, the lead of the Patient Advocacy Program, with whom I work most closely. Although I do have a well-defined job description, this position is new to the organization, and that means we’ve been doing a fair amount of figuring it out as we go.
The Patient Advocacy Program is also relatively new to the OCF. It has been in existence for about a year and a half. The PAP focuses on addressing the needs of the whole family when a child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or medically complicated condition. We provide support and connections to resources that assist with travel expenses, childcare, school accommodations, medical support and equipment, food assistance, counseling, and anything else a family needs throughout their child's illness.
We work with families from around the state, and the support we connect them to comes from a wide range of sources; from large national organizations, to state and local government agencies, to non-profits, to individuals who just want to help. One of my main responsibilities is to help manage these resources. As I’ve been researching and reaching out to these various partners, it’s been amazing to see the breadth and depth of support that is available. Many of these organizations have origin stories much like the OCF . . . where an unimaginable loss ignited a passion to help others going through a similar experience.
As heartening as it has been to learn about all these wonderful programs . . . it’s also been quite sobering to learn how great the need for them is.
We get referrals nearly every day; either families calling us directly, or from other service providers or representatives calling on their behalf. Some of them are facing short-term issues and their needs are easily addressed, others are facing catastrophic situations, with complex health conditions that are going to be on-going and require numerous resources throughout the life of the child. Regardless of the scenario, it’s always frightening to have a child that is hurting. However, even in the midst of their circumstances, the strength, courage, and resilience of these families is awe-inspiring.
So, what have I learned so far?
There are many awesome organizations and agencies in Wyoming, and elsewhere, staffed by dedicated people with a passion for serving others; and there are so very many families with sick children in need of their support. I am blessed to be working for the Olivia Caldwell Foundation, where, in some small way, I have the opportunity to help bring these two groups together. It is work with a purpose, and I am so grateful.
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