15 Church Street
Carmel, NY 10512
Phone: (845) 225-2144

Bereavement & Support Info

  Friends of Karen, Inc.
Category: Bereavement, Support for the Loss of a Child, Support

118 Titicus Road, P.O. Box 190
Purdy's NY
Phone: (800) 637-2774
Website: http://friendsofkaren.org
An Introduction to Friends of Karen

Our Mission:  Friends of Karen provides the support families need to stay stable and strong throughout the course of their child’s critical illness and, if the child dies, through the bereavement process.  We keep these families together, in their own home (with their heat and lights on) and able to cope.

Who We Are: Friends of Karen was founded in 1978 by Sheila Petersen.  A friend’s daughter, Karen, was terminally ill, and she wanted to come home from the hospital to live her final days surrounded by her family.  Karen’s family’s insurance did not cover home care and her family could not afford the cost themselves. Sheila galvanized the community to help raise funds to enable Karen to remain at home.  When Karen died, Sheila established Friends of Karen as a resource for other families who had a child with a life-threatening illness. Since then, Friends of Karen has supported more than 4,500 critically-ill children and their families. When siblings are counted, Friends of Karen has touched the lives of more than 11,800 children in the New York tri-state area.

“When parents of a terminally or catastrophically ill child receive financial and emotional help, they have more time to love.”  
Sheila Petersen, Founder, Friends of Karen

Who We Serve:  Friends of Karen serves families with children (birth to age 21) who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, and live in any of 22 counties in the New York metropolitan area.   In 2011, Friends of Karen helped 1,308 children (533 seriously ill children and 775 siblings).  Friends of Karen works with 22 major hospitals in the Tri-State area.  Most of the children and families are referred to us by their social worker at the hospital where they are being treated.  Friends of Karen serves children and their families regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin, or cultural heritage.

What We Do:  Friends of Karen’s core Family Support Program offers individualized case management provided by a team of experienced, professional social workers.  Our support includes:

   * Emotional support, including supportive counseling, bereavement support and a Sibling Support Program that provides specially-trained counselors who work one-on-one and in small groups with sisters and brothers of the children who are ill, allowing them to express their feelings and develop the means to cope with what is happening in their family.
   * Financial support through direct payment of illness-related expenses not covered by insurance (i.e., doctor and nursing fees, prescriptions and lab bills) and basic living expenses (i.e., rent, mortgage and utility bills) that are no longer affordable when parents leave their job to care for their child. We also help cover the cost of childcare for siblings and hospital travel and meals.
   * Advocacy support to ensure families have access to all available benefits from government and other agencies; support from other organizations; pro bono legal counsel; and help with special educational needs.

“When we were going through our daughter’s illness, we would not have made it through without Friends of Karen.  We will NEVER forget all that you did financially and emotionally.”  
Myra and Jesse Poe

Our other important programs:

   * Holiday Adopt-A-Family:  In 2011, 822 children received holiday gifts from their individual wish lists.
   * Back-to-School:  In 2011, 593 children received a new backpack  filled with school supplies and a gift card for back-to-school clothing.
   * Annual Candle Lighting Ceremony for bereaved families, attended by 450 family and friends in 2011.
   * Supermarket food cards.  No family should have to choose between paying for medicines or chemotherapy for a child and feeding their family.  In 2011, Friends of Karen distributed over $35,000 in supermarket gift cards and 126 Thanksgiving food baskets to families in need.
   * Birthday Gifts for sick children and their siblings. This year, we sent presents with a personalized card to 676 children.

“Thank you, Friends of Karen, for assisting us in every possible way, for standing on the front line for us, for bringing up our spirits during this battle. Thank you for making our otherwise obscure path a clear one full of hope, possibilities and friends who truly understand.”        
Nathanael’s parents

Our Financials: Our 2011-2012 fiscal year budget is $3.2 million.  83₵ of every $1.00  raised goes directly to supporting families.  Friends of Karen covers approximately $100,000 each month in direct family expenses.

Charity Navigator, an independent organization that evaluates the financial health and responsibility of thousands of U.S. charities, has given Friends of Karen a 4-star rating – their highest award – for the third year in a row. Only 13% of evaluated charities have received the 4-star rating 3 consecutive times.

Our Locations: Friends of Karen is headquartered in Purdys, New York, with two regional offices – in New York City (Manhattan) and on Long Island (Port Jefferson). We have 13 full-time and 8 part-time staff members – and more than 150 volunteers.

Questions?  Please feel free to contact us at 914-617-4042 or info@friendsofkaren.org

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