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Mar 19, 2014
10 Years of Making a Difference

This year George Mark Children’s House will celebrate 10 years of making a difference in the lives of very sick children and their families. Since opening in March 2004, we have served more than 3,000 children, parents, siblings, and members of the community. We are grateful for the support you’ve provided that has made our unique services possible.

At George Mark Children’s House, we are here for children and their families. We listen, we care, we connect them to services, and we connect them to one another. We help by providing a compassionate community that can empathize during these traumatic and stressful situations, and walk with them along their life’s journey.

We hope that you will support George Mark Children’s House and our unique vision of compassionate medical care for children by making a gift today.

For Dr. David Steinhorn, our new Medical Director, working at George Mark Children’s House is a
means through which he can live his values and demonstrate compassion. He hopes to build on our
success over the past ten years by helping us become a regional beacon for families of children with life‐limiting illnesses and helping others to replicate our compassionate model of care in their
communities. We are fortunate to have his expertise and thoughtful approach to child and family
care.

Board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine (pediatric), Dr. Steinhorn is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and a Pediatric Intensivist at the University of California, Davis. He knows that a child’s illness impacts the whole family. Families with really sick children often feel isolated, alone, and even embarrassed.

“While the medical conditions we encounter here at George Mark may impact a very small percent of the population, we know that when they impact your child, it is 100%.”

Because a serious illness affects not only the sick child but also the entire family, George Mark provides family‐centered care to holistically address the child’s needs, as well as those of the entire family. Your donation supports George Mark Children’s House to address the needs of the whole family.

George Mark also helps families uncover the sense of meaning in a child’s life and realize the joy they can experience in the time they have with their child, whether days or weeks or years. Your gift to George Mark children’s House ensures that every child gets to experience joy, comfort, satisfaction, and meaning, even in the midst of profound health challenges.

We are here to support each family’s unique journey.

Amazingly, George Mark Children’s House is the only organization of its kind on the West Coast, and was the first of only three such facilities in the country.

While we will celebrate our 10th Anniversary this year, our work has only begun. Your support of our unique programs and services remains as important as ever, as we also look forward to providing critical care and support for thousands of additional children and families in the future.

Thank you,
Ken Sommer
Director of Advancement

P.S. We invite you to join us on the walk with each family’s journey by making your gift today.

Open a PDF version of this letter.

Dec 16, 2013
GMCH Newsletter!

The latest George Mark Newsletter is available on line.
Read it here!

Dec 9, 2013
Your gift will provide comfort and joy to families...
The best thing about being a George Mark family
is a word that might seem out of place…
That word is ‘joy.’

December 2013

Dear Friend,

When our baby George was born, we were overjoyed. When we learned about his terminal diagnosis, we were devastated. When George defied all the doctors and we discovered we would have more time, we were bewildered. How could we live in an indefinite state of grief and sadness? How could we be joyful with George and give him a joyful life knowing that he was going to die?

The very fact that George Mark Children’s House exists helped us to
truly enjoy our time with George, even in the midst of our despair.

We hope that you will consider supporting this amazing organization with a donation today.


We are privileged to be part of the family at George Mark Children’s House and honored to share with you a bit about our beautiful boy George. Recently, we celebrated what would have been his third birthday.

We spent the first six weeks of George’s life at Children’s Hospital in Oakland (CHO). Remarkably, his condition remained stable. We were absolutely terrified to take him home. We were first time parents; we had never changed a diaper, let alone a feeding tube. It was scary knowing he might pass at any moment. Thankfully, our good friends at CHO convinced us to visit George Mark Children’s House, and that tour changed our lives.

We came to George Mark Children’s House for two weeks for the Transitional Care service provided to families who are transitioning from the hospital to caring for their child in their own homes. Those two weeks gave us three things: confidence, comfort, and a sense of normalcy.

We became confident because the team at George Mark Children’s House taught us how to care for our son medically and how to help him develop the gifts and talents that he was given. Had we not been given that confidence, the time we had with George would not have been as enjoyable because we would have been worrying about all the little details of how to care for him.

We were very comfortable at George Mark Children’s House. It is a home. We moved out of our little corner in the hospital and into a beautiful room at George Mark where we had a bathroom, a crib, a bed, a dresser, and a TV. In that room, we were able to experience a sense of normalcy. One of our favorite memories with our son happened at George Mark. Sean had always hoped to watch Saturday college football with our son. One Saturday morning, George lay on Sean’s chest and they got to watch a game on TV together. Sean was a very happy dad that day.

We couldn’t go to story time at the library or join a Gymboree class, but George Mark Children’s House was a place where we could bring George and just be a family with other families that were in situations like we were.

While we were at George Mark for Transitional Care, George also got to do fun things like hydrotherapy and music therapy. After we left, we brought George back for the holiday party where he met Santa Claus. We came back for music therapy and attended the summer picnic where George met Kelda the therapy dog and fell inlove with her.

When the time came, George Mark Children’s House was a beautiful and peaceful place to say goodbye. The George Mark family took care of us at that juncture in our journey. And they enabled us to take care of our baby boy even in death. End of Life Care at George Mark was so much more than having a place with nurses to help us when our baby was dying.

The George Mark community helped us to be joyful in our grief. They provided a foundation of joy on which we could build George’s life, which is an amazing gift.

Now that George is gone we’re still a George Mark family and we can still come here to remember our little boy with other people who knew him and other families like ours.

Last year George got a little sister. Her name is Lucy. Lucy has already visited George Mark Children’s House a few times. This will be a way that she can know about her brother and know about the true meaning of the word joy.

George Mark Children’s House is a unique and special organization. We would like to thank all of the George Mark team for taking care of us the last three years. We would also like to say thank you to all of the donors, supporters and partners that help families like ours in times that feel very dark. You give families like ours joy with our loved ones. Thank you all very much.

From our family to yours, we wish you comfort and joy ‐

Sean and Alison Eddy

P.S. Please consider making your year‐end gift to support George Mark Children’s House this holiday season.

Nov 7, 2013
You make a difference...

Let me tell you how your support can help families facing one of life’s most difficult situations by sharing the story of a mother and her son who recently came to George Mark Children’s House…

Michael died at George Mark Children’s House earlier this year, just shy of his 13th birthday. Throughout his life, getting support for Michael’s healthcare had been a major struggle for his mother Allison.

“I was so grateful for George Mark Children’s House. Everyone was sweet, supportive and loving. I didn’t have to fight anymore.”

Allison explains, “For 13 years I was Michael’s big bulldozer mama tiger trying to make things happen for him.” She often had to fight to get the care Michael needed, but at George Mark Children’s House she and her son could just be together peacefully and receive care in a way that made them feel in control and comfortable. For this, Allison is extremely grateful.

***

Although Michael was born healthy, he developed meningitis at just 18 days old. Seizures kept him in the hospital for several weeks. After his condition stabilized, Michael went home with his mother. But at two months old he developed hydrocephaly and underwent surgery to have a shunt put in his brain.

Many care providers repeatedly warned Allison that her life with Michael would be difficult. Some even tried to persuade her to give him up. But Allison remembers fondly that Michael came out of surgery happy and smiling. That was the moment she knew that if Michael was going to fight for his life, then she would fight, too.

Allison believes that Michael helped her realize her own life’s purpose: “He taught me persistence and perseverance. Before he was born I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing with my life.” A single mother, Allison was inspired to return to college when Michael was young. After completing her bachelor’s degree she went on to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is now completing her licensing requirements and currently works as a social worker with parents of special needs children.

As Michael’s health declined and it became clear to Allison that his time on earth was coming to an end, she was relieved to find George Mark Children’s House. In January 2013, Allison and Michael arrived to spend the last nine days of Michael’s life together. The staff and volunteers at George Mark were inspired by Michael in many of the same ways she was. Allison says, “He changed many people’s lives. He taught me to appreciate the little things in life. He helped people understand what it means to be disabled and to provide unconditional love. He was brought to teach love and respect to me and to everyone he met.”

Because Allison felt that Michael was understood and appreciated by George Mark staff, she felt buoyed throughout Michael’s last days.

“Being at George Mark Children’s House for the end of Michael’s life was a good way to honor an amazing kid. I didn’t have to worry about things while I was here like I would in a hospital or even at home.”

While she still struggles with Michael’s death, the sense of peace and closure she gained from her time at George Mark Children’s House helps her feel supported to move on to the next chapter in her life, while keeping Michael’s memory alive.

Please make your donation to help moms and kids like Allison and Michael today.

Warmly,

Ken Sommer

Director of Advancement

P.S. Your support provides peace and the gift of time so that families can simply be together when it’s most important.

P.P.S. Thank you for making your tax deductible gift today!

Oct 3, 2013
You Provide a Loving Home Away From Home

Dear Friend,


One of the joys of working at George Mark Children’s House is hearing from families about the impact we have on their lives. I want to share a note with you that we received from a family and ask for your support today…
Nine year old Aydin was born healthy, but experienced encephalitis as a small baby which resulted in almost total loss of his cognitive and bodily functions.

His parents, Sibel and Emre, vowed that their priority would always be to provide Aydin withthe best possible quality of life. “At first, we wanted to do everything alone. We thought that only we could provide the best possible care for Aydin.”


“I can’t believe that more families don’t use George Mark Children’s House.”


They soon learned that having a break from full time caregiving is very important. Sibel
explains, “We became burned out, exhausted and stretched past our limits.


“We love that we found George Mark. If you burn yourself out as a caregiver, you’re no longer a good caregiver.”


After bringing Aydin to stay for Respite Care, Sibel and her family realized how much George Mark adds to the quality of life that she and Emre are able to provide for Aydin and his two younger sisters. Like many parents who bring their child to George Mark for Respite Care, Sibel has conflicted feelings: “I feel a huge relief that he’s in a place where he’s receiving wonderful care and having a great time. On the other hand, when we leave Aydin, I wish it were possible for him to be with us. But I know he’s in a good place, and his younger sisters also really need to have some time when my husband and I can give them all of our attention.”


“Coming to George Mark has reinforced that it takes a village to raise a child, and that it’s OK to ask for help.”


Sibel notes that Aydin also has a fantastic time when he stays with us: “When Aydin was at George Mark, it was like he was on vacation. He was so happy and everyone at George Mark seemed to love him so much.”

Please make your gift today to support Sibel’s hope that George Mark continues to help
families like hers for years to come.


Warmly,


Ken Sommer
Director of Advancement


P.S. You can help caregivers rest and recharge while providing a home away from home to very sick children.


P.P.S. Please make your tax deductible gift today!

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What Families Are Saying

Q: What were the best aspects of your experience at GMCH? A: The people, the food, the love and respect for the families.