Resilience, the theme of this newsletter, is a defining characteristic of our Friends of Karen (FoK) children and their families.  Against what seem like insurmountable challenges, they tap into their strengths and support systems to weather the many hurdles of getting through a life-threatening illness like cancer. Add the threat of COVID-19 and you have some idea of what our families have been facing this past year. As if life wasn’t already difficult enough for them! The stories we’re spotlighting in this issue are a testament to their remarkable resilience and will inspire you for sure.
 
It is an understatement to say this year has been challenging for all of us too.  One takeaway for me is an added insight into what our Friends of Karen families face every day — the feeling of isolation, the fear, disappointments, stress and anxiety that take over your life during a health crisis.  Like FoK families, our lives have been turned upside down by an unforeseen health emergency. Truthfully, a year ago, I didn’t know whether Friends of Karen would be able to fulfill our promises to the families who would need our assistance during the pandemic more than ever.  It was a scary prospect, but I should never question the resilience of the FoK team. 
 
Our Family Support staff kicked into gear.  They quickly shifted to working remotely, connecting with families via Zoom or Skype because they could no longer visit them in their home or the hospital.   Our administrative staff pulled together and has kept operations flowing smoothly these many months.  Likewise, FoK’s Board of Directors stepped up to help navigate the organization through the unchartered circumstances we faced.  With careful financial planning, some steadfast volunteers, and a dedicated team working together, Friends of Karen never missed a beat.  We even identified unmet needs created by the pandemic and launched new programs for children and families.  You can read about them in this newsletter. 
 
Reflecting back on this unbelievable year, I am filled with gratitude.   Despite the challenges YOU were facing in your own life, you have kept Friends of Karen children and families in your heart and mind.  YOU have been and continue to be the glue that unites us during this uncertain time.  Your incredible generosity and kindness is overwhelming.  Because of you, FoK was able to provide four-times the support for parents to feed their families at a time when nearly half have suffered a loss of income due to COVID-19.   Your partnership empowers all of us at Friends of Karen to be resilient and focus on our core mission of helping families stay stable, functioning, and able to cope when their child is in treatment for a life threatening illness.   
 
To the amazing Friends of Karen team and all of you who have been by our side during these many months, my sincerest thank you.  Be well and stay safe.
 
With a grateful heart,
 
Judith Factor
Executive Director 
 

Ways to give

Friends of Karen is creating a pathway of loving messages from all of our supporters, friends and families.

Bring critically ill children and their families the HOPE they deserve all year long. As a Guardian of Hope, you Donate Monthly. With your help, children will receive the emotional support they need

Leave your imprint to benefit future generations. Naming Friends of Karen in your estate plans will continue to impact the lives of critically ill children and their families well into the future.

Friends of Karen believes that families can maintain a sense of balance and stability even in the midst of the crisis of caring for a child with a life-threatening illness.