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talk-of-the-townCleve and Michell

Oh my, oh my, oh my!!  What exciting days these are for our foundation.  On Sunday, 9/17 and again on Tuesday, 9/19, Mary was on the RADIO!  The story begins at ACE Hardware (as so many of our stories do).  A woman named Michelle Gaddis came into the store and asked Bob to make a key for her.  A long story short, they began talking about the foundation to the point that Michelle was moved to tears (her words).  Michelle went home and told her husband, Cleve, about the foundation.  Well….Cleve is a radio host on Newstalk 1160 in Atlanta and before much time had passed, Cleve had called Mary and asked her to be on his show.

A side story here will illustrate how often things work in our foundation world.  It’s our belief that NOTHING IS BY CHANCE!  Cleve, as well as being a radio host, is a real estate broker.  And he was was hosting another guest on his show whose house Cleve was selling and who is in the roofing industry.   And who BTW had donated his kidney to someone.  Thus the segway!

This was all done first by phone.  On Tuesday afternoon, Mary stopped running errands and sat in her car to listen in.  She was a bundle of nerves in anticipation of what she was going to sound like.   But all went well.  For a first-time radio personality (!), she did a pretty good job of letting people know what we are all about.

Thank you, Cleve, for this incredible opportunity.

OH….the icing on the cake?  Cleve and his co-worker, Alfie, donated $500.00 to the foundation.  Incredible generosity.

 

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ASCNN Presentation

ASCNN Picture

September 14, 2017….another super day in the life of our foundation. I was privileged to present our foundation to a senior networking group called Atlanta Senior Care Network Niche. And before I got up to speak, I was introduced and given a donation of $1,000.00! It has been an interesting journey getting acquainted with quite a number of senior networking groups. The people involved represent so many different parts of the senior industry, from care givers, to financial planners, to movers, to people in the medical profession…I could go on and on and on. To say I’m having the time of my life would be an understatement. And for me to have imagined, even a year ago, that I would be comfortable doing what I’m doing….well let’s just say I couldn’t have! I truly feel like I have found my special purpose in life, the purpose that God intended for me all along.

SOCIAL WORKERS AT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL ATLANTA

Childrens_healthcare_of_atlanta   On August 29th, Bob and Mary brought boxed lunches to CHOA meet with four of the social workers that we will be working closely with.  Each one represented a specific solid organ.  We met with the ones working with hearts (Molly Dugan), livers (Cindy deSa), kidneys (David Cooper) and intestinal rehab (Anne Sanders).  What stood out the most to both of us was their dedication to their small patients.  Mary specifically asked them if they fall in love with their patients and they all said a resounding “YES!”  And they also added that when they lose a patient, they grieve them. It’s hard to imagine a more difficult job.

At CHOA, kids aren’t simply tiny adults. They need specialized pediatric care.  The CHOA staff are committed to making all kids better today and healthier tomorrow.

Many different conditions can lead to the transplant of solid organs.  Transplants are not necessarily congenital, as some might assume.  The transplant program at CHOA provides 1) pre-transplant evaluations, 2) wait list levels and donor process information, 3) patient matching processes, 4) care before transplant, 4) care during transplant and 5) care after transplant.  And part of the role of the social workers is to connect with the families (care givers) of their patients.  The Evans family is very familiar with being the care givers and it is that part of the social workers’ jobs that we understand the most.  And it is what we are most passionate about.  In regards to our foundation and our apartments, the social workers are the professionals who recommend a family to the Georgia Transplant Foundation for use of our apartments.

Here is a summary of what the transplant department at CHOA does:

  • Liver Transplant Program: They are home to one of the largest pediatric liver transplant programs in the country. They have performed more than 500 liver transplants on infants, children and young adults, and have some of the shortest wait times in the country.
  • Heart Transplant Program: Their pediatric heart transplant team has performed more than 350 heart transplants on children with survival rates that are better than the national average.
  • Kidney Transplant Program: For more than 30 years, they have been a pioneer in pediatric kidney transplantation. They have wait times and patient survival rates that are better than the national average. They have performed more than 675 kidney transplants.
  • Adolescent and Young Adult Transplant Program: They provide the resources to help make the transition to adulthood as smooth as possible. Their “I Own It” Clinic is specially designed for their liver, heart and kidney transplant patients ages 14 to 21.

CHOA treats patients from birth to age 21.  Most families of the patients stay at the Ronald McDonald House and they are so grateful for that resource.  Our apartments will in no way compete with the Ronald McDonald House; we will supplement it.

It was absolutely wonderful to finally meet these people.  Our hope is that we will be able to accommodate their patients and care givers in any way possible.  Sometimes an apartment, with total privacy, will be the best thing for a child and his/her care giver.  And that is why our foundation exists.

 

Well…this was fun!

red white 3 chairs    This story starts with the two donations for our 2nd apartment….a red couch and a dining room table and chairs.  The couch and table were in perfect shape, but the chairs needed work.  So Bob and I accepted the challenge and went to work.  Mary took the seats off the chairs, washed the chairs with soap and water, and let them dry in the driveway.  Then she painted the chairs a really dark charcoal and let them dry.  Inside the house Bob was busy removing the old fabric and then recovering the chairs with a fabric that goes with the couch.  The picture shows you the results.  It took a good bit of time because there were 4 side chairs and 2 arm chairs.  We love the result!

Needless to say, the next apartment will be decorated around the color red.  Sounds like a happy place, yes??

ANOTHER GREAT DAY IN OUR WORLD

web developer     Today we made great strides forward for the foundation.  Mary met with David Votto who is a web developer and he volunteered to redo our entire web site, bringing it up to much higher standards than it has been (to say the least).  And he is doing this at no cost to the foundation.  In the mind of someone who is sorely lacking in technical skills (Mary), he’s a genius!  Mary left the meeting with a short list of things David will need for this project and now we will wait to see the final product.  This is going to be such a marketing tool, especially in the area of fund raising.  Potential donors will be able to go to our website and REALLY find out what our foundation is all about and also to find out exactly what we need, financially and otherwise.

And another great thing today…Mary got home from the meeting with David and opened the mail, only to find a donation check for $5,000!  We are so incredibly grateful to our extremely generous donor.  This donation makes it possible to get started on Apartment #2, and that what we are all about!

It’s been a mixed emotion week

Tough Week                                                                     This week has been terribly emotional.  It’s hard to explain so that others can understand.  As everyone knows by now, our transplant apartment is being lived in and that is really, really good news.  A goal and dream of ours has been met.  We have worked hard to reach this goal and I don’t think any of us has had all of this story sink in yet. I long for when it does.

With the process of talking to the caregiver two days ago and then turning over the keys to her this morning, a lot of memories that have been buried for a while rose to the surface.  And that hurt!  I was thrown back into an ICU unit, figuratively, of course.  I saw that damn ventilator.  I relived spending hours talking to Jeff, directly into his ear, knowing he could hear but that he couldn’t speak.  I relived what seemed like hundreds of trips from work to the hospital, leaving work at 5:00 and leaving the hospital never before 11:00.  I remember rubbing those big, old, size 13 feet, trying to keep them warm and, truthfully, just to make my boy happy.  I remembered stopping on my way to the hospital to buy Jeff dinner because he was sick of hospital food.  I remember talks that we had that hurt to the depths of my soul.  And so much more, including watching the monitor over Jeff’s head settle into a “flat line.”  He was gone, never to return.

It’s been a tough week.  I summed it up this way and it sounds dramatic, but I now believe it’s true.  Jeff had to sacrifice his life, and we had to sacrifice him so that other people would have a better chance at living.  I’ll never understand God’s ways, but I will accept them.  And thank the Good Lord that he gave us a vision that would bring some meaning to loosing our son.  Our prayers now are for the double-lung transplant patient that is living in the apartment that he will find rest and comfort, that those new lungs of his will heal completely and that he will go on to live a very fruitful and healthy life.  And we pray that his caregiver and wife will sleep well tonight in the comfy bed we have provided, because she has not had a bed to sleep in since May 24th.  The transplant journey is not an easy one, and I have been obsessed this week with remembering it.

Only someone who has walked this journey will ever understand.  Thankfully, we have an extended family, who love Jeff with all of their hearts, and who will listen and try to understand, offering so much love to us.  Like I told all of them yesterday, we must leave the past behind us because we are moving forward to a glorious future, serving transplant patients and their care givers.  It’s a great direction to be heading.

Love you, Jeff.  Your mom misses you more than she can say.  But I have the feeling that you know everything that is going on and you’re loving it.

MY, OH MY, OH MY! WE HAVE OUR FIRST APARTMENT GUESTS

Emory Healthcare

We got a call this morning from the Georgia Transplant Foundation that they have a lung transplant patient and his care giver for our apartment!   I don’t think we could have imagined that this would happen so soon.  We are elated!

Their names are William and Melody.  I will meet Melody on Saturday at noon to give her the keys to the apartment.  She has been sleeping in the hospital lobby since May 24th!  This is one of those things that we have always said should NEVER happen.

Interestingly, we also were contacted by two other hospital social workers today, one from Emory and one from Children’s.  I do believe we could have filled three apartments on our first day of operation if we had had them ready.  It really proves that there is an urgent need for what we are doing.

Our job now is to find financial donors in order to begin the second (and third?) apartment.  It costs $5,200.00 to have everything needed to rent an apartment.  That includes furniture, furnishings, apartment fee to get in and first months’ rent.   WE’RE ON IT!

WHAT AN EXCITING DAY THIS HAS BEEN!

WE ARE OFFICIALLY IN BUSINESS!

 

 

You are looking at a VERY happy family.  These pics were taken at the Open House for our first (of many!) transplant apartments.  The Social Workers at Emory and CHOA, along with the Georgia Transplant Foundation could put a patient and care giver into the apartment as soon as next week!  This is a dream-come-true for our foundation…2-1/2 years of hard work and this is the result.

Just a few pics to let you know what the apartment looks like…

Apt living room      Open House Orange Bedroom      Open House Kitchen      Open House Blue Bedroom      BIG DAYS ARE AHEAD!Open House Entry 3

 

 

The Saga of the Bed Rails

bed rails 2Who could have known what a problem bed rails could be.  (I’m writing this so that I won’t forget it….probably not much interest here for our blog followers.)

It is now Friday evening and I have just returned from the apartment, where I actually was able to put an entire bedroom together.  Doesn’t sound like much, but here’s what led up to it.

  1. Four days ago, we purchased bed rails at a store in Dawsonville and took them to the apartment.
  2. Attempted to install them on the head board and the foot board, but one end (where the “claws” are that fit into the headboard) was UPSIDE DOWN!
  3. Decided to just go to a mattress store in the neighborhood and buy another set and return the defective one later.
  4. Came home with a set without “claws” but with bolts.
  5. Called the mattress store to say we got the wrong rails.  They offered to deliver a set with “claws.”
  6. They did.
  7. Went to install them and the piece that goes in the middle for support was too short.  Looked like the crossbar was made for a full-size bed.
  8. Called the mattress store only to find out that we couldn’t return the bed rails unless we spent $59.00 for pick up.  Huh??  The store is literally 1/2 mile from the apartment.
  9. Decided to return the #1 bed rails to Dawsonville, which we did.  They exchanged them for a good set (even took them out of the box to measure to make sure everything was right).
  10. Attached the rails and made the bed!
  11. Got a call from the mattress store saying we could return the defective rails, which we did.  They gave us a credit.
  12. All of that to say that this adventure meant driving over 350 miles, mainly because we live so far away from the apartment!  Home-Dawsonville-home-apartment-mattress store-apartment-home-Dawsonville-home-apartment-mattress store-home.
  13. AND this caused A LOT of frustration.  I had to apologize to the mattress store person for being so rude.  She graciously accepted my apology.
  14. I’d like to say a lesson was learned, but I can’t think of one.  We were just the unlucky recipients of two (yes, two!) manufacturing screw-ups!
  15. And BTW….the bedroom looks fantastic!!  And I have to admit that this has been the ONLY frustrating thing about setting up this apartment.  Thank the good Lord!

ALL THE MOVING IS DONE!

College hunks

Another “small and last” move to the transplant apartment. We just had a mattress set and a washer/dryer to move and we had no luck finding anyone with a truck and some muscle to help. So we called the “College Hunks” moving company. Two great hunks moved our stuff and now we can finally say that EVERYTHING is in the apartment. They were great guys and did a great job.

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