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Dec 8, 2014
The Gift of Time

Our daughter Ruthie Lou was born August 9, 2011. She was gorgeous with a full head of auburn hair and the sweetest little lips. We didn't know that anything was wrong until she was two weeks old and the doctors confirmed our worst fear: our daughter would not survive. To say we were devastated would be an understatement.

Ruthie Lou was perfect, inside and out. She was so much more than her diagnosis or prognosis; she was our beloved baby girl. Our sweet girl lived 33 days, 12 of which were at George Mark Children’s House. She was held and loved every single day of her life.

Will you please support the life changing work at George Mark Children’s House by making a meaningful donation today?


When we arrived at George Mark, it took my breath away. It was bright and full of laughter and life. That was the first time I had even noticed beauty since learning that our daughter was going to die.

From the moment we entered our room at George Mark Children’s House, we were finally a family.
We knew immediately that we had come to the right place; we knew that we were in Ruthie Lou's home.

During a time when nothing in life mattered except spending every waking moment with our daughter, George Mark tended to our every need - even those we could not have prepared for
. We were fed meals to nourish our bodies. We were given space to bond as a family.

We no longer had to hear the beeping sounds of the NICU machines. We no longer had to ask permission to hold our own daughter. We no longer had to be separated from her. At George Mark, we experienced things that we never would have if we had stayed in the hospital.

The Child Life Specialist guided us through several memory making projects in the art room and one of Ruthie Lou’s favorite of places was the warm pool, where we spent lots of time. We took daily walks outside. We watched the sunset, while rocking in the chair under the gazebo, every single night. We were able to experience the life we had imagined with our daughter.

George Mark Children’s House is about family. It is about kids being kids. It is about enjoying the life we are given, no matter how short.

Our daughter’s short life blessed us immensely and continues to be a blessing every day, even now three years later. She taught me more in her 33 days than I have learned in 33 years.

We began counseling at George Mark Children’s House soon after returning home. We needed support and we wanted to feel understood. We were searching for hope and we wanted to feel close to Ruthie Lou. In those early days, we met as often as needed. Being at George Mark Children’s House gave us a sense of peace and normalcy.

When we found out that we were expecting Ruthie Lou's brother, it terrified us - but the entire staff at George Mark supported us and held our hands. They guided us through our fears, and they celebrated the birth of Ruthie Lou's brother one year later. Through our ongoing continuous journey with grief, we have been supported each step of the way.

It feels strange to count ourselves fortunate when we think about our brief time with Ruthie Lou. But we were fortunate. We were fortunate that our hospital directed us to George Mark Children’s House. And we were fortunate that we were given the time, space and support to fully be present during Ruthie Lou's final days with us.

We will forever be grateful to George Mark, for the time when we lived there with Ruthie Lou and for the years since as they've continued to walk our life journey with us.

George Mark Children’s House has held us during the most devastating time of our life and they have celebrated with us during the greatest joys in our life: Ruthie Lou and her brother Reid.

George Mark continues to play a huge role in our life. It was a safe haven then and it continues to be a safe haven for us now.
George Mark Children’s House is Ruthie Lou's home and it is now forever our home, too.

As 2014 draws to a close and you consider the charitable contributions you want to make, please make a tax deductible gift to support George Mark’s work with families like mine.

In celebration of life,

Amie Lands

Nov 24, 2014
Your gift provides a home away from home...

Our friend Tashawna wants to help raise money for the George Mark Children’s House. She asked us to share her story with you today to give you a better sense of the real impact that your donations to George Mark have made in her life. I hope after reading it, you will consider making a gift today.

Tashawna has a degenerative genetic disorder called Friedreich’s Ataxia. Her symptoms manifested in high school. Both her father and older sister have already died from the same disease. Now, as a young adult, Tashawna’s condition is declining and her mobility is limited. At 21, she lives with her mother in a modest apartment in Richmond. Tashawna is fully aware of her disease and the eventual outcome.

Tashawna comes to George Mark Children’s House twice a year for Respite Care. The concept of Respite Care is simple: to give everyone a break. Respite Care at George Mark makes a substantial difference in quality of life and health for families. Parents have an opportunity to rest and recharge physically, mentally, and emotionally while we provide high quality medical care and appropriate activities for children and young adults.

At George Mark Children’s House, families have a home away from home where they are supported, cared for and understood. In addition to Respite Care, Transitional Care and End of Life Care round out the services we provide to families. Everyone who comes to George Mark has an opportunity to enjoy daily life here…

When Tashawna comes to our House, her mom gets some time on her own, while Tashawna gets to experience some fun and independence. She socializes with all kinds of people, explores music and art, enjoys the beautiful grounds and pet Tashawna with George Mark Staff, Families and Volunteers at the Gala/ Photo by Joseph Driste Tashawna with social worker Patti therapy visits, and eats delicious, healthy food (and if she doesn’t like what’s on the menu, Chef Barbara even makes her something special!).

While here, Tashawna uses our counseling services which help her deal with the complicated feelings that come with being a vibrant young woman who is living with a terminal condition and declining health.

Her family also attends George Mark’s special events including Pumpkin Day, Family Picnic, Prom and more. These events offer opportunities to connect with a community of families facing the same challenges.

And Tashawna? Well, she makes the most of every day. Despite the huge losses she has already experienced, she exhibits humor, enthusiasm, poise and an open heart. Our social worker Patti regards Tashawna as one of the most inspirational people she has ever met. Tashawna’s mother
feels the same way, describing how Tashawna teaches her over and over the power of a positive attitude, no matter what life brings.

Your gift has a real impact on patients like Tashawna. Respite Care is almost completely subsidized by the generosity of donors like you. We hope you will make a gift today to help patients and families come to George Mark to rest and recharge.

Thank you for being there for Tashawna and her family and others who benefit from Respite Care and all of George Mark’s services.

Warmly,

Ken Sommer
Director of Advancement

P.S. Please make your tax deductible contribution to George Mark Children’s House today!

Oct 21, 2014
In the SF Chronicle!

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a wonderful story about George Mark Children's House on the front page. Please click here to read.

 

Oct 16, 2014
Take a Virtual Tour!

Please enjoy a visit to George Mark Children's House in this quick introductory virtual tour. For more information call 510.346.4624 or email info@georgemark.org.


Jul 8, 2014
Front page news!

Bay Area News Group ran a wonderful piece about George Mark Children's House.
Please click here to read the story.

Photo of Clebergs at George Mark Children's House courtesy of Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group

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