“Please donate, it would help us.”
Cristiano Buchanan’s little eight-year-old voice rang out loud and clear and his enthusiasm for the Darling Home was unmatched.
So it was no surprise that the non-profit residential and hospice care centre in a peaceful, natural setting in rural Milton was chosen as the recipient of close to $10,000 at the Burlington chapter of 100 Women Who Care’s September meeting Thursday night at the Burlington Golf and Country Club.
Cristiano, who melted most of the 75 hearts of members who came out, said he’s been going to the Darling Home for several years, and he loves it there. “Basically, it’s a summer camp for kids who have a disability.”
He continued to get the crowd’s attention, clapping wholeheartedly and praising Darling Home – his energy was uplifting.
Darling Home for Kids is much more than a summer camp, especially to families who not only get respite for periods of time, but a place they can totally rely on, especially those with extra fragile children. That’s the case for Cristiano’s mom Francine Buchanan.
The Darling Home for Kids, which provides high-quality, palliative care services for children who are medically complex, many of whom suffer from progressive illness, was the only place she would leave her two year old after he came home from hospital for the first time.
“He was so medically fragile,” she explained, noting Cristiano was born at 26 weeks, with multiple birth defects. He spent two years in hospital, and when he did leave “his stroller was like a giant medical ICU, with portable IVs.”
She said it was difficult to leave him with anyone and feel comfortable. That’s where Darling Home came in.
“When I walked through those doors, they taught us how to care for our child,” she said. “At the playground, they taught us how to really thrive and how, as a family, to really thrive. He’s a happy, energetic, awesome kid.”
The staff at the Milton facility provide professional, holistic, high quality and personalized hospice, respite and residential care for children and their families.
Funds will help support core programs and services as emergencies arise. Their wish list includes a heavy-duty $3,500 dishwasher, two track lids for beds ($2,500), and the home is expanding to 10,000 sq.ft.
Darling Home was the charity of choice for 100WWCB in November 2017 and last night was the second time it has been nominated since then.
Two other charities were nominated at the Thursday night meeting: Comfort Bears and Dare to Be Youth.
The former, explained Debb Fioravanti, helps children up to eight years old facing trauma by providing them with a cuddly teddy bear. Children could face trauma from serious vehicle collision, child abuse, home violence or a death in the family. Comfort Bear shifts the child’s focus from the stress and anxiety of the moment to comfort.
It’s the second time Comfort Bears, which uses 100 per cent of the funds received, has been nominated, and the first time they’ve presented.
“Halton Police’s Victim Services sees a five year-old hiding behind his mom who is bruised and bloodied with broken bones,” she said. “They give the (Comfort) bear a tight hug and whisper ‘I’ll never hurt you.’”
The bears provide a sense of comfort when little else will do, Fioravaniti said, noting the trauma could be caused by grief, illness, suicide or other difficult life experiences.
Meanwhile, Dare To Be Youth was nominated for a second time. They are hoping to partner with secondary schools and organizations to bring an in-person financial literacy program to youth. Despite being a vital aspect of one’s overall wellness, financial wellness is not typically included in traditional programming for youth, and nominator Shannon Tobin wants that to change.
“Seventy per cent of youth feel there should be financial education in school,” said student Rachel Bresnahan, who presented along with fellow Burlington Central High School student Inshirah Mohammad. She noted that anyone can benefit from financial literacy, and funding for the program would be used to provide an in-person program.
100WWCB meets for about one hour, four times a year, when three registered charities that serve Burlington or Halton are nominated. Each group makes a short presentation outlining how they would use funds. Members then vote to determine who will receive the pool of donations from the membership for that quarter.
Each member makes a tax-deductible donation of $100 (or $50 for those under 30) to the charity of choice. The goal of the Burlington group is to collectively generate a minimum of $40,000 annually for local charitable initiatives, creating a powerful impact as a result. Since 2014, the local chapter has supported 35 local charities with total donations of $211,445.
Facilitator Lisa Bilodeau said more than 15 new members have come on board since the group’s April meeting, bringing the total to 108. The group meets next on Nov. 5.
To join 100 Women Who Care’s Burlington chapter, visit https://100womenwhocareburlington.com/
Any member who has signed a commitment form will be able to nominate a charity of their choice for consideration at a meeting.