A DIFFERENT KIND OF DONATION

Janet Painting    Janet table and chair

As is a common occurrence, Bob met a woman at ACE who wanted to help the foundation and what she volunteered to do was to paint furniture.  Her name is Janet Seebeck, and she has become a good friend.  Janet lives in a town home, so she drives over to our house in order to paint.  She told Mary to look for furniture that is not in very good shape (and therefore cheap!) and she would make it look like new.  So Mary found this table and four chairs at a thrift store for $40.00.  It was in rough shape, but Janet did, indeed, make it look like new.  The best thing about her is this:  she first sands, then primes, then sands again, and then puts on at least two coats of paint.  If Mary was doing it, she would probably dust the piece off and spray paint a couple of coats and call it a day!  Janet’s work is beautiful….as you can see!  This table and chairs will be going into Apartment #4.

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WE WERE ON TV ONCE AGAIN!

pEACHTREE TV   CBS Group Photo  Sometimes, as we move forward with our foundation, amazing opportunities present themselves.  Friday, April 13th, was one of those times.  Bob and I headed out from Ball Ground at 6:00 a.m., anticipating a terrible drive to Atlanta, one that could take possibly 2 hours.  We were pleasantly surprised to arrive WAY ahead of time.  So what did we do?  Breakfast, of course.

Silver Skillet  We ate at the SILVER SKILLET in Atlanta.  Apparently this restaurant has been in a lot of movies and if you were inside, you would understand why.  It’s OLD and loaded with old time charm.  We can recommend the pancakes and sausage without hesitation!

Then on to the “amazing opportunity.”  We were invited by CBS46 to participate in a program honoring “Organ Transplant Month” which is April.  We were one segment of four.  The group picture, above, shows all of the participants.  It was an EXCELLENT presentation from the standpoint of educating the public about transplants, which is a multi-faceted subject.

Segment #1 was a couple whose 15-year-old son was killed in a tragic car wreck.  They made the unselfish decision to donate his organs and 5 people received his major organs.  They have also set up a scholarship fund in his honor to be given to students “of character.”  It was an emotional segment.

Segment #2 was ours.  And, of course, it was about two things.  One was that our son passed away before getting a transplanted heart and how that affected our lives.  And then we talked about how loosing Jeff has translated into our passion for transplant patients.  We talked about about how we provide housing for transplant patients and their care givers at no cost to them while they are going through their transplant experience.

Segment #3 was two gentlemen who have received successful heart transplants:  one almost 20 years ago (which is totally amazing) and one 3 years ago.  They both are HEAVILY involved in the transplant world, volunteering their time at the hospitals in order to encourage patients and also spreading the word about organ donation and it’s EXTREME importance.  Just an aside here about a “small world.”  One of the guys knew one of our apartment patients, and the other’s doctor was Dr. Andy Smith from Emory who was instrumental in getting our foundation started.

Segment #4 was about the Georgia Transplant Foundation and LifeLink, both organzations that help us enormously in a financial way.  Their main focus was to debunk a lot of myths about transplants, and there are many.  One thing that stood out (and this is very important in our Southern culture):  1) after donation, it is still entirely possible to have an open casket funeral.

It aired on Sunday, April 15.  I have attached a link to our segment:

http://www.cbs46.com/clip/14271529/public-affairs-on-peach-segment-2

 

NEVER SAY SENIORS CAN’T HAVE FUN!

sock-hop  The Evans’ had a blast on Friday night, April 13th.  There is a senior living apartment complex in John’s Creek where Mary attends a networking event every month.  Now….apart from the networking event people, the ladies that work in the office of the apartment complex have taken a great interest in our foundation.

SO…they hosted a “Sock Hop” in honor our foundation for their residents and we were invited to attend and to tell everyone about what we are doing.  So Bob and Mary rolled up their jeans and tried to look a little “1950-ish” and headed over there.  We were amazed to find at least 180 people in attendance.  There was a row of ’57 Chevies (is that how you spell that?), the food was the Varsity Food Truck (“What’ll Ya Have?”….onion rings please!)  The DJ was fabulous and we had a blast.  As the evening went on and the dancing began (grandma/grandpa/mom/dad/grandkids…you get the picture), Bob and Mary worked the crowd expressing our thanks.

Thanks for what you ask?  Well part of the price of the ticket was to donate a pair of cashmere socks or donate money towards cashmere socks!  We received six pairs of socks and over $350.00!  We were SO grateful.  As most of you know, all of “our” transplant patients receive a pair of cashmere sock from us in memory of Jeff.

The place was hoppin’ and a good time was had by all.  Thank you to the residents of “The Park.”

Rotary Presentation

Rotary  On April 11th, Mary had the privilege of presenting our foundation to the Brookhaven Rotary Club.  First of all, it was very interesting to hear and understand what Rotary Clubs are all about.  The first one was formed in 1905 in Chicago so that professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.  A big part of who they are began in 1979 with their fight against polio.  They began a project to immunize 6 million children in the Philippines. Today, polio remains endemic in only three countries — down from 125 in 1988.  Being a child of the 1950’s who lived across the street from a girl my age who had polio learning this brought this important project directly home.

The Rotary Clubs have what they refer to as the “Four Way Test,” something that we could all live by:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Having said all of that, I will say that my presentation was accepted in a wonderful way.  I felt there was genuine interest in what we are doing.  A Q&A session followed and I happy to answer all of those.  I believe that going forward, in one way or another, Rotary will be beneficial to our foundation.

AN EMOTIONAL DAY FOR MARY

I can only imagine  I had kind of an emotional day today. My afternoon started with having lunch with Brad, which brings me all kinds of joy. Then I walked next door to the movie theater and saw “I Can Only Imagine.” I loved the movie, but it was a tear jerker for me. I came out realizing that I can, indeed, only imagine, but I thought about my Jeff who has seen Jesus face-to-face. His imagining days are over. Did he fall to his knees?    Did he dance for Jesus?  Did he fall to his face?Was he able to speak at all?

On my drive home, I started thinking about “our” transplant patients (the ones who have lived in one of the apartments and moved on). I contacted each of them and received back wonderful, happy news about most of them. Our little 7-year-old is still waiting for his numbers to reach the appropriate place to be placed on the transplant list. He has not been feeling very well. And I had a nice (kind of sad) conversation with the mom of our patient who passed away. I pretty much covered every aspect of this foundation story….some good, some not so good, some emotional and, best of all, the good thoughts about my boy. How I miss him and I will until my imagining days are over.

LOVE CAME TO OUR HOUSE IN A BOX

Pics from Jen   I’m going to start this post by saying that the Evans cousins have a special, tight bond.  To this day they miss their cousin Jeff.  The picture is evidence of that.  When cousin Jen learned that we had a child in one of our apartments, she went to work to bring some love to that child.  What she did arrived from Seattle by Fedex this week to our home.  It was filled with games, puzzles, books and art projects.

Our little patient actually went home yesterday to wait for getting listed on the heart transplant list.  Hopefully when that happens, we will have an apartment available for his family to live in.

In the meantime, we will put these games into any apartment that has a child living in it.  Think of the joy and the “release” they will receive.  A special gift like this one will be such a great addition to an apartment.  Our families need things like this to break the intenseness of what they are living with everyday.  They are literally walking a tight rope.

Thanks, Jen!  Jeff knows what you’ve done!

BUSY, BUSY WEEK!

Craziness    It’s been a whirlwind of a week around here!

On Tuesday, Bob and I rented Apartment #3.  It’s closer to Piedmont.  It is in Post Peachtree Hills Apartment Homes.  It’s another 2-bed, 2-bath, roommate plan on the first floor.  The move-in is scheduled for Monday.  We also stopped by Apartment #1 to deliver the cashmere socks and the Bible (the patient said he would treasure it) and he put the socks on his feet!  We tried to visit the people in Apartment #2, but we couldn’t get a hold of them.
On Wednesday, Mary got a call back from the caregiver in Apartment #2.  The patient is still in the hospital (he’s a heart transplant patient) and the care giver was there with him.  I still had cashmere socks and a Bible for them.  I agreed to meet the care giver at the hospital front door because she told me about her husband complaining about cold feet.   I had to get that fixed because it’s so relatible!  She was so appreciative for the Bible…she said she needed a foundation to lean on.
On Thursday, our liver patient in Apartment #1 was released by his doctor and he and his wife left the apartment to go home to Albany.
I put out an email to all the social workers in the three hospitals that Apartment #1 would be available on Saturday.  That was to give me and Bob time to get down there to clean the place.
Around 3:00 p.m., I got a call from a social worker at CHOA  that he had a family that would benefit from living in one of our apartments for 2 weeks.  I, of course, said “yes.”  Well they wanted to move in on Friday!
So Thursday evening, I picked Bob up from work at 5:15 (the worst possible time to start driving south on 400).  It took us 1-1/2 hours to get there.  We cleaned until around 10:00 and headed home.
On Friday I met the mom (main caregiver) at 2:00 p.m. to turn over the keys.
The family story:  They are from Albany.  Ben is a 7-year-old boy that needs a heart transplant (can you imagine?)  He is not yet on the transplant list.  He has been in the hospital for three weeks in a effort to get his “numbers” to the right place.  (I never know how to explain numbers, but they always seem to be the most important part of getting listed).  So for two weeks, Ben has to get infusions (can’t explain that either!).  So his entire family will be living in the apartment, which includes:  mom, dad, grandma, Ben, 11-year old brother and 14-year old sister.  Seems a little crowded, but all they care about is being together.  As I was giving mom a tour of the apartment, the rest of the family was in the car, driving to Atlanta.  We got a call in the evening that everyone was “home” and all was well.
Two things about this one:  1)  we are keeping a family together and 2) this is our first child patient.  In my mind, two very BIG things to add to our story.
Now humor me to hear the WORST part of all of this….setting up utilities and renter’s insurance.  I swear it took me hours and many phone calls.  YIKES!  I was tearing my hair out.  I’m still waiting to get my “welcome letter” from Infinite Energy.
This week, we drove 4 round trips (100 miles each) to take care of all of this.  Last night I was beat, probably very crabby, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

TEA AT THE FOUR SEASONS IN ATLANTA

Four Seasons Front  On Tuesday, May 6, Mary was invited to attend a Tea at the Four Season in Atlanta by Logan Vaughn, a Financial Planner with Edward Jones.  I met Logan at a senior networking event a couple of months ago and she took an interest in our foundation.  Her goal was for me to meet people from her financial world that would take an interest in what we are doing.  She had invited a select group of 12 women and I was privileged to be one of them!  As you can imagine, it was a treat to be sitting at the Four Seasons, late morning on a Tuesday, sipping tea and munching on…..  Four Seasons Tea    NO KIDDING!  I heard a presentation on financial planning that was extremely interesting.  But more importantly, I was able to meet all of these new people and share our foundation’s story.  THANK YOU, LOGAN!

Thought that continuously bothers Mary

pexels-photo-613321.jpeg  As our foundation continues to grow and as we continue trying to get our message out there, it has occurred to everyone on our board of directors, and especially to Mary, that we are in a very exclusive niche within the non-profit sector.  Being “exclusive” sounds great in some ways, but the truth of the matter is, we need to find something that will tug on the heart strings of people.

The old saying,”if you knew what I knew” applies here.  Because we entered into the world of transplants in a very, very personal way, and because our experience ended in the worse possible way with the loss of Jeff, we truly have a heart for the people getting transplants, and even more we have a heart for the care givers.  Mary’s passion lies with the care givers because she has walked in their shoes.

SO….in the middle of the night, as is almost always the case, an idea came to Mary.  She got up and began working on it immediately.  Who needs sleep, right??!!

I want to do a video that expresses what the care givers’ thoughts are; the things that go through their minds as they live through the transplant experience.  The patient is being taken care of by a team of doctors, social workers, nurses, and every other medical category you can think of.  The care giver is mostly ALONE.  So I contacted a guy that went to high school with Brad who is in the video-making business.  We are going to meet for coffee next week to discuss my ideas.  I can’t wait to hear what Billy Hong has to say about what is rolling around in my head.

Stay tuned!

 

Apartment #1 – Family #2

Apt living room  Our very first patient, Will, was officially released from Emory on January 23rd and headed home to his family near Savannah.  Will lived in Apartment #1 for almost 7 months!  We are so happy that he has recovered to this point and our prayer is for a long, healthly life for him.

On January 29th, we got a call from Piedmont that they had a liver transplant patient and his care giver that needed a place to live.  Mary drove down to the apartment on that very day to turn over the keys to the care giver, Laura.  She was so appreciative because, as she said, she had been worrying about where they would live because of financial issues (this is ALWAYS the problem for our residents).  When Mary was talking to her, she said this….”I have a 7-month-old grandbaby and now he can visit!”  As a grandma, Mary understood that comment.  The Evans family believes that, as much as the apartments give peace, comfort and financial easing, they also keep the family together.  NOTHING makes us happier.  The patient, Bill, should be released from the hospital to the apartment in a couple of days to begin his healing journey.  Welcome to Laura and Bill!