The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce its Community Champions for the third quarter of FY17. These employees were nominated by their colleagues and are being recognized for their work with local non-profit organizations, where they donate their time and energy to improve quality of life for their neighbors. The Champions’ chosen nonprofits will receive a $500 grant from The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation.
Senior Talent Recruiter, The MENTOR Network
Most Bostonians look for a reason to stay inside during the cold winter months, but beginning in December of 2016, Stefanie Baker was looking for any opportunity to get outside and train for the 2017 Boston Marathon. Nothing stopped her from running in the rain, snow or when it was -1 degree. That is because she was running to raise money for Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Marathon Team for Pediatric Hematology Oncology in honor of her six year old niece, London who is being treated at MassGeneral Hospital for Children for medulloblastoma, a fast-growing tumor that develops in the base of the brain.
When asked if she wanted to run, it was not even a question, she joined the “Fighting Kids’ Cancer… One Step at a Time” team to honor London. Stefanie committed to running at least 8 hours a week to be ready for 26.2 miles and raising her $6,000 fundraising requirement.
“Stefanie is a very positive and giving person,” said Patty Abeling, Senior Director of Integration and Process Optimization, The MENTOR Network. “The money she raised will fund critical cancer research and provide programs for children and their families at Mass General Hospital.”
“I thought about London and her courage and strength every time I ran,” said Stefanie. “If she can go through 6 weeks of radiation, 5 days a week, then I can run 26 miles. She gives me strength with every step I take and her smiling face got me to that finish line in April.”
Stefanie more than doubled her fundraising goal raising nearly $14,000 of critical funds to support the tremendous care that her niece and others receive at MGH. She was one of the top 10 fundraisers on the team, so it is no surprise that MGH has asked her to run again next year. Based on her spirit and dedication to the cause, it is no surprise that she is planning to do so!
To learn more about MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Division of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology, please visit their website at http://www.massgeneral.org/children/.
Behavioral Therapist, NeuroRestorative Kentucky
Natalie’s Sisters is an outreach, referral, and resource ministry for women working in the sex industry in Lexington, Kentucky. Kim Brown began volunteering with the organization about 6 years ago through a ministry in her church. Kim gives several hours each week to help the volunteer-run organization reach hurting, abused and exploited women.
Each week Kim takes home-cooked meals to the women working on the streets and in the clubs. These meals open the doors for volunteers to offer the women other supports in order to better their lives. Kim has developed relationships with many of the women and serves as a support system. She educates them about community resources, takes them to the hospital, or just lets them know that they are not alone and someone cares for them.
Women are also invited to a center which is a “mobile unit” located in the middle of the neighborhood where the women work. The center gives the women a place to go during the day to make phone calls, set up appointments, speak with other women about issues, and share meals together.
“By working with Natalie’s Sisters, Kim is helping the community fight sex trafficking by offering unconditional support to women in need,” said Jennifer Allen, Clinical Director, NeuroRestorative Kentucky. “The community is better off each time Kim comes into contact with a woman at a club or working the streets. She shows these women that there are other options and that there are people ready to support them.”
“I enjoy working directly with the women and seeing some of them make life-changing decisions to start new lives,” said Kim. “It is extremely rewarding when the women are excited to see me and hug me when I come to drop off a meal. There are always going to be some stories that aren’t so successful, but those little glimmers of hope keep me going.”
To learn more about Natalie’s Sisters, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/nataliessisters/about/.
Program Coordinator, REM Iowa
Scott McDowell has been facilitating the Beginning Again Survivor Group in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the past three years for individuals with brain injury who live independently. This support group is sponsored by the Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa whose mission is to create a better future through brain injury prevention, advocacy, education, research, and support. Twice a month he organizes either a social or educational opportunity for the participants of the support group. The group, consisting of 15-25 members, may go out to eat, attend a play or move, learn cooking or gardening skills, or learn about self-advocacy.
“Scott has a deep passion for individuals with brain injury and wants to give them every opportunity possible to be part of their communities,” said Susanna Streng, Business Development Director, REM Iowa. “Without this support group some of these individuals may not have the opportunity to connect with their communities, learn new life skills, or socialize with others that truly understand their experiences.”
Many of the members who attend the support group utilize wheelchairs so accessible transportation is a necessity. Scott has worked tirelessly to foster good relationships with local transportation companies to ensure that each member is picked up and dropped off safely and in a timely manner. The increase in number of members that now attend this group reflects Scott’s work with the transportation companies over the years.
Scott also frequents the Iowa State Capitol to lobby for issues for brain injury and serves on a board that fights for greater regulations for high school athletes who incur concussions.
“They need people to fight for them,” said Scott. “If people don’t speak up and speak out then nothing will change. I am motivated to give so much of my time to this cause because I can see that we can make a difference in the lives of individuals with brain injury. I will talk to anyone about issues of brain injury to change legislation.”
To learn more about Brain Injury Alliance of Iowa please visit their website at http://www.biaia.org/.
About The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation
The MENTOR Network Charitable Foundation is committed to transforming the delivery of human services through the generation of new ideas and best practices. We seek to advance an agenda based on quality, accountability and respect for the individual. The focus of our giving is on organizations that take a fresh look—through research, innovative thinking, direct care and programming—at how people with disabilities and youth and families facing emotional, behavioral and other challenges are cared for in our society. The Foundation also works to expand opportunity for the people we serve through employment and educational support.