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45 Years of Caring Because of You

45 Years of Caring Because of You

In 45 years of service to the New York metro area community, Friends of Karen has demonstrated time and again a special way of caring. The legacy of kindness and compassion that our founder Sheila Petersen exemplified when she brought a quality of life to a gravely ill teen, Karen MacInnes, and her family so many years ago has been replicated thousands of times. Today Friends of Karen provides its services to a diverse and ever expanding population that needs our help. We are proud of our commitment to never turn away a qualified family when their child is desperately ill.

There are no waiting lists at Friends of Karen, no matter how we must stretch our own resources or weave together a safety net for a family with help from other partners. When your child is in treatment for cancer or another life-threatening illness, a waiting list won’t cut it. That’s what we mean by a special way of caring. Always going the extra mile, or sometimes two, to fully embrace a family whose life has been upended by a child’s illness.

In this 45th anniversary annual report, you will meet some of the children and family members who the Friends of Karen team has been privileged to know this past year. They chose to share their story so that you understand how deeply everyday life for a family is affected when illness strikes out of nowhere and what having Friends of Karen by their side meant to them. Whether we paid the rent, provided gift cards for food and clothing, offered guidance on planning for a child’s long-term treatment, helped parents find the words to speak with their children about a sibling’s illness or myriad other ways, Friends of Karen continues to tailor assistance for a family so that it is most helpful to them. Ours has never been a “one size fits all” approach. That is among the distinguishing characteristics of Friends of Karen.

Another is that our programs are always evolving to address the pressing concerns we hear from families. We recently added a survivorship component for children who have ended their formal treatment but who still have significant medical and emotional needs. We also piloted a program to build a community of support for families who have lost a child to illness, offering two grief education workshops this past year, something we plan to continue. This flexibility to be creative and test innovative support services for the children and families we serve is a testament to our dedicated staff. Their focus on Friends of Karen’s mission never wavers. The leadership of our Board of Directors, combined with the commitment, passion, and generosity of our remarkable community of volunteers and supporters are the engines that make it all possible.

Forty-five years of service is a milestone to celebrate, yet we know that Friends of Karen’s special way of caring is needed as much now as ever. The resilience and bravery of the children and the strength of their families facing the most difficult circumstances move us to focus on the future while we acknowledge the achievements of the past year detailed in this annual report. With your continued confidence and support, Friends of Karen will be well-positioned to bring help and hope to children and families for years to come. On behalf of the whole Friends of Karen team, thank you for inspiring our work and keeping us strong.