The Believe In Tomorrow hospital housing program provides a “home-away-from-home,” for families who travel long distances to receive care for their child. The two hospital housing facilities are located in Baltimore, Md. near the Johns Hopkins Hospital. These facilities allow families a place to stay during their child’s medical treatment, providing both communal and private rooms with all the amenities of home. The houses promote a support system not only through Believe In Tomorrow staff and volunteers, but also other families staying at the facilities.
“What a Blessing the Children's House is. It has allowed us to have some sanity and peace in some very stressful times... It means so much to have such wonderful and caring people be a part of our lives.”
Hospital Housing Updates:
Scroll down to read the latest happenings at the Believe In Tomorrow Hospital Houses.
The Children's House Gets New Carpeting Throughout.
Members of the Maryland and Northern Virginia Floorcovering Association visited The Believe In Tomorrow Children's House at Johns Hopkins Tuesday, June 16, and Wednesday, June 17, in a whirlwind effort to replace all of the carpeting in the house's fifteen rooms. The result: brand new carpeting - and a new ground to tread on - in a beautiful shade of blue. The Maryland and Northern Virginia Floorcovering Association also held its annual golf tournament on June 17, which raised thousands for Believe In Tomorrow programs. Thank you to the association for being outstanding contributors in the month of June.
Children's House Carpeters:
Contract Carpet Systems\Carpet One, Beltsville, MD, Kurt Zanelotti
Nash Floors Carpet One, Rockville, MD, Steve and Chris Nash
Commercial Carpet of America\Carpet One, Alexandria, VA, Daryl Reinke
Peerless Carpet One, Rick Gessner, Timonium, MD
Quality Carpet One, Shawn Bayat, Woodbridge, VA
A recent story in the June issue of Grand Magazine features grandparents at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins and all of the amazing things they do. Stay-tuned June 3 for the new copy of the e-zine, which can be accessed using the link below. In the meantime, view the Believe In Tomorrow piece using the PDF link below.
When the Fidos for Freedom therapy dogs trot in through the door of the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins, you almost forget their owners/trainers are leading them in. Usually it’s the other way around.
For canines like Nick, Oliver, and Salsa, who lent their loving services to the Children’s House on a recent Thursday night, visiting the Children’s House once every month has them tugging on their leashes as they enter and heading downstairs to prepare for playtime.
The Fidos for Freedom therapy dog session is just one of the endless activities at the Children’s House providing a sense of normalcy and some much needed distraction for critically ill children and their families experiencing the rigors of medical treatment. The families who gather in the Children’s House lobby to watch tricks, cuddle and play with them get to fill the void of a beloved pet left at home or experience a simple evening of entertainment where the whole family can participate.
Fidos for Freedom isn’t the only dog therapy group to visit the house. Every other Tuesday, the National Capital Therapy Dogs come to share their philanthropic pups from 7 to 8 p.m.
The help sometimes extends beyond the scheduled meeting time. Recently, a critically ill child staying at the house made a request to see one of the therapy dogs while in the hospital room. The two groups teamed up to find a therapy dog and trainer to visit the hospital at a moments notice.
On this Thursday evening, Nick and Oliver - one white and one brown collie (think Lassie) - paired up to bring smiles to the faces of Children’s House guests, weaving around owner Debbie Taylor’s legs, bowing, and crawling on command. Salsa, an 8-year-old Golden Retriever, who also works search and rescue for missing animals, welcomed pats on the head and tummy scratches from all who came to greet her.
And, slowly at first, they did come. First a grandmother showed up in the basement living room, then a sister. Kirsten Stains and her daughter Katie Stains, who is being treated for Ewing Sarcoma, stopped by to spend some time lounging on the floor with Oliver and Nick, who had grown tired from their earlier show of tricks.
The Schneiders had just arrived at the house when the session began, but that didn’t stop them from heading straight downstairs to meet some new, furry friends. Andrew Schneider, 11, who has Skeletal Dysplasia, and his brother, Noah, 8, immediately went to pet Salsa.
“These dogs are a lot bigger than our four-pound dog,” said Noah, referring to the Yorkshire terrier that they often leave at home in Hamilton, Ohio when they load into the car and drive six hours to Johns Hopkins Hospital for Andrew’s treatment.
Fidos’ therapy dog program (they also have assistance and hearing dogs) is a network of volunteers and their dogs in the Baltimore-Washington area. All dogs must pass a rigorous obedience test and attend special classes to visit health care facilities. Nick, Oliver and Salsa were prime examples of this.
And for their efforts, they all got a dog treat – some fed by the families themselves – before they left the Children’s House.
Chloe’s Cause Pays a Visit to Believe In Tomorrow
Chloe’s Cause founders Mike Hume and Anthony Davenport visited the Believe In Tomorrow National Headquarters in Baltimore, Md. Monday, Feb. 9 to present Believe In Tomorrow with a generous donation and plaque honoring the beginning of a long-term relationship with unlikely beginnings.
Our December e-newsletter family spotlight told the story of the Coccia family and their unique experience with treating their daughter Chloe for leukemia (Chloe also has Down’s Syndrome) while staying at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at St. Casimir. To view the Coccia’s story click here.
Chloe’s Cause, inspired by Chloe’s infectious smile despite her treatments, has since grown in size and scope with the mission of educating parents about the link between Downs Syndrome and leukemia in addition to raising money for Chloe’s hospital expenses.
The donation from Chloe’s Cause to Believe In Tomorrow will go directly to the families in Believe In Tomorrow’s programs and serves as a token of appreciation for the services the organization provided Chloe while staying at St. Casimir.
Believe In Tomorrow looks forward to an ongoing charity relationship with Chloe’s Cause and a forever friendship that lasts long after tomorrow!
Take a Seat at St. Casimir
“…There is something about a shared meal that anchors a family even on nights when the food is fast and the talk is cheap and everyone has some place they’d rather be.” -- Nancy Gibbs, Time magazine
Dorothy Dreisch, who grew up in the Baltimore neighborhood of Canton and spent her Sundays attending Mass at St. Casimir’s church, says her family once made a pledge to try out a new restaurant each month.
“That didn’t last,” she laughs.
Maybe she’s too busy setting up family dinners in the Children’s House at St. Casimir. For three years Dorothy and her daughter Samantha Ciuchta have filled the basement kitchen and living room with the scents of fresh-baked cookies and sounds of holiday-themed music. Every first Monday of the month, Dorothy and Samantha carefully set the table and unwrap generous portions from area restaurants to feed families staying in one of St. Casimir’s seven apartments.
On the first Monday of November the Sharpless family eats baked ziti, chicken parmesan, and Caesar salad from Coburn’s restaurant. It’s just them and Dorothy, but they don’t seem to mind. Payton, 7, lights up when she sees the dining room – complete with flat screen TV and games – is unlocked.
“I’ve never been in here before,” she says and challenges her brother, Kaden, to a game of tag.
Come Wednesday Payton will leave her brother’s side as he continues treatment and she returns to school. For now, though, they get to enjoy a simple activity that characterizes normal family life.
Family dinners at St. Casimir may do more than provide normalcy for guests. A recent study by The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that children who sit down to five or more family dinners a week are much less likely to use drugs and alcohol than children who attend less than three a week. In addition, for families who eat together regularly, 64 percent of teens reported good grades.
The frequency of family dining has continued to drop in recent years. Believe In Tomorrow works against that trend, cordially inviting families staying in St. Casimir to come enjoy a hot meal on the first Monday of every month. In addition, The Children’s House at Johns Hopkins lets families share and mingle over pizza every Monday night and provides several family dinners throughout the week.