Friends of Children provides relief
By Sheila Hall,
Friends of Children
Christopher (A real child; not his real name) is five-years old and has an auto immune disease which requires treatments not available in his East Kootenay town.
Since diagnosis, his parents have spent thousands of dollars taking him to appointments with the many specialists and practitioners who are responsible for his care. This money hasn’t been spent on medicine or the treatment itself; it’s in gas for the car, hotel accommodations, meals and the other expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. Both of Christopher’s parents have had to take time away from work and while they’re paying to stay out of town with their son they still have a mortgage payment and other bills that come due every month. Fortunately for them and for other East Kootenay families, Friends of Children (FoC) is here to assist.
When a child is ill or injured, parents are thrown into a difficult and stressful cycle. The mental and physical toll is undeniable, but the financial toll is often underrated.
EK Friends of Children was established when it became apparent that many children simply weren’t attending their out of town medical appointments because of the cost of gas or the inability for a parent to take a day off from work. The average cost of a one-night trip from Cranbrook to Calgary is approximately $300.00 and many families have to make these trips repeatedly – the costs add up exponentially.
So far in 2016 the charity has approved over 150 requests for assistance, which included grocery cards for meals, reimbursement for fuel expenses, hotel accommodation, monthly accommodations at Ronald McDonald House, expensive prescribed formula for premature infants and much, much, more.
The majority of East Kootenay families that travel with their children for medical reasons are going to Calgary or Edmonton, however a percentage also go to Kelowna, Vancouver, or Lethbridge. Additionally, many families from other communities are referred to Cranbrook so travel to appointments at East Kootenay Regional Hospital or to see another local specialists is also supported.
Referrals come from local doctors and pediatricians, social workers at Alberta or B.C. hospitals, or private individuals who know a family that needs assistance. Friends of Children also works closely with the other agencies in the Kootenay Child Development Centre in Cranbrook, with the staff at Ronald McDonald House in Calgary and Vancouver, and with a long list of unaffiliated support groups in order to connect families with the services they need.
Christopher and his family have a long road ahead of them, as do the other 355 families currently in the East Kootenay Friends of Children database.
However, now that he’s registered he will continue to receive support when requested until his 19th birthday as the organization serves children from birth through age 18. There is no income criterion; parents provide no financial information and to date every request for assistance has been granted due to the success of fundraising events and donations from individuals and corporations. Friends of Children proudly reports that 100% of donations are put toward family support thanks to a BC gaming grant which pays for the administration of the program.
If you know a family with an ill or injured child who needs assistance or would like more information about Friends of Children please visit the website at www.friendsofchildren.ca or call 1-888-564-2217.