A MESSAGE FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
It’s been 4 years since Better2gether accepted its first family application. We were thrilled to begin doing the work: providing support, making connections and easing the burden of caring for a medically complex child. I wondered- would we really make an impact on families?
Recently we conducted a survey of families and were blown away to hear what they had to say about their experience with Better2gether. “ When I got the (Better) Bag, I felt like you all were thinking about the kids and parents. It has been a lifesaver” or “ We love to get together with families like ours, the connection is important” and “ My kids loved the zoom art sessions!” I love hearing the joy of a new parent when they find that Better2gether exists to meet the unique challenges of their child.
As we grow as an organization and welcome new families, we are staying true to the core competency in which we built Better2gether: Understand, Support and Equip families with the tools to care for their child. We are grateful to you, our community of supporters, for volunteering, sponsoring, donating and contributing of yourselves so that we can continue to positively impact children and families in RVA. Our doors are open to you and our families, knowing we can do this better, together.
Executive Director, Co-Founder
Meet Dominique “D.D.” Bascom
Since moving to the River City from Northern Virginia almost 20 years ago, Dominique (“D.D.”) Bascom has always been committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of others in the Richmond community.
From the ways she positively impacts clients as a Relationship Banker and Team Leader at C&F Bank on Patterson Avenue – to her active participation in the Synapse Networking Organization (linking community-minded professionals with local non-profit organizations) – D.D. seeks opportunities to collaborate and connect for the greater good.
It was through her Synapse involvement that D.D. first learned about Better2getherRVA. When Better2gether’s co-founder, Liz Burnett, spoke at a meeting, D.D. knew she wanted to get involved. “I was absolutely moved by her story,” she shares.
“I have been inspired by the wonderful things that B2G does for families in this community since I first heard about the organization,” she explains. “As a mother and someone who has been described as ‘chronically empathetic,’ my heart aches for those facing the challenges that the B2G families struggle with every day. I often say, ‘I just can’t imagine what these families are going through’ but the truth is, I can imagine and it moves me to action.”
D.D.’s commitment to philanthropy stems from a combination of personal and professional experiences. First and foremost, D.D. is inspired and motivated by her children. “My greatest adventure remains parenting my three beautiful children – two 12-year old sons and a 10 year old daughter,” she shares. “(Additionally,) my personal commitment and passion for philanthropy developed from the recognition of the positive impacts of organizations like B2G in my own life. I have experienced challenging circumstances and I would not be where I am now without that support.”
D.D. adds, “I have been fortunate over the years to work for businesses who are deeply committed to giving back to the communities they serve. This affords me the ability to make it a professional priority. I approach much of my professional conduct from the perspective of a consumer. ‘How would this make me feel?’ ‘What impression would this make on me?’ I know that I want to do business with people and companies that contribute money, time, resources, exposure, and overall support to organizations that do good things. This, in turn, inspires me to be an agent of good myself.”
D.D’s personal and professional commitment to giving back is evidenced by her consistent and generous support as a Better2gether donor, volunteer and community advocate. We are grateful for the many ways D.D. strengthens Better2gether and inspires others to action.
2nd Annual Better2gether Golf Classic Presented by Call Federal Credit Union
Date: June 8, 2022
Location: Meadowbrook Country Club
The 2nd annual Better2gether Golf Classic presented by Call Federal Credit Union is just a couple of months away! Mark your calendar for June 8th and golf for a great cause at a new location–Meadowbrook Country Club.
Registration is open and sponsorship opportunities are also available! Not a golfer but want to get involved? Volunteer or participate in our online silent auction. Check out the tournament website at bit.ly/B2GGolfClassic for updates and all the details.
Visit the tournament website at bit.ly/B2GGolfClassic for more information.
Sponsor Spotlight: Call Federal Credit Union
A big thank you to Call Federal for their support as our title sponsor for the second year in a row! We’re extremely grateful for your community partnership.
More About Call Federal
Call Federal Credit Union provides passionately local banking, building relationships that help people reach their goals and improve their financial health. Serving more than 30,000 of their friends and neighbors in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan area, they are a locally-owned financial cooperative with a 50+ year history of giving back to the community. They are passionate about providing members financial education through non-judgmental coaching and workshops, and meet all of their members’ banking needs through products and services designed to be simple and in their best interest.
Visit www.callfederal.org for more information.
Better2gether in the News
Meet Our Resource Coordinator, Carissa Russo
Connecting with parents and families as they navigate complex medical journeys isn’t just a job for Carissa Russo, Better2gether’s newly hired Resource Coordinator. It’s personal.
Not only is Carissa a trained nurse and public health professional, she is also the parent of three young children – two of whom have experienced complex developmental challenges. “When my middle daughter was born,” Carissa shares, “We spent our first few days in the NICU and months of doctor visits in the first few years of her life.
She had a significant cognitive delay at all of her check-ups. And after early intervention referrals, massive amounts of testing, GI, genetics, and every specialist under the sun, we could not figure out what was causing her delays. I was so thankful for the early action provided by her pediatrician. She knew I was so desperate to find an answer.”
However, in spite of the early intervention, Carissa still felt she was left largely on her own to navigate the world of special needs.
Thirteen months later, Carissa’s son was born. While he met some developmental milestones, he was speech delayed. “But his delay was so different than my daughter’s,” she explains. “I couldn’t understand how two children with the same diagnosis could have completely different needs throughout their treatment plan. I thought my journey with him would be the same as with my daughter. I figured I had the answers I found before, but it was completely different. I was navigating different avenues of the healthcare system than before. Two kids – both with the same delays – but significantly different.”
These personal experiences – along with Carissa’s professional background in healthcare and policy – are what prompted Carissa to apply for the role of Resource Coordinator.
“Needless to say, my lived experience really made me feel so connected to B2G’s mission,” she says. “I felt like I would be the perfect person to support families because I know how stressful it can be to feel like you are in this alone.”
In addition to her busy professional life and family life, Carissa enjoys going to CrossFit. She is also an avid board game lover. “I have collected hundreds of board games over the years. Some are to play, and some are to just tuck away for collection,” she shares. “Other than playing games, we love to watch movies as a family. Me and my oldest enjoy watching food network and discussing how we would do better than each contestant. Easier said than done!”
For Carissa, her favorite part of serving as Better2gether’s Resource Coordinator is, “…being the person that I wish I had when I was navigating the health care system and the social constraints of raising children with special needs.”
Looking ahead, Carissa says, “I hope that we can grow our network and provide support for families who are most in need by creating a strong community. Always remember, togetherness has great value. I am thankful to be here to support every B2G family.”
Better2gether Backpack and Tote Bag Amazon Wish List
When a family joins Better2gether, the child receives a Better Bag consisting of games, toys, books, a Kindle Fire and water bottle. The parents receive a tote bag with a medical binder, a water bottle, insulated lunch tote and items needed for long days away from home.
Created with the purpose to help parents be prepared for unexpected hospital stays or long days of appointments, and a kid-approved bag of distractions, the Better Bags and tote bags continue to provide much needed support to families.
As one parent said, “The Medical Binder made a significant difference for me. It helped me get organized and made it all less stressful. I’ve even made binders for friends. The small bag with phone plug saved me multiple times during long days at medical appointments. Thank you!” Another parent commented, “The bags are so thoughtful. The tablet has entertained the boys during at home procedures/remedies and for doctor visits. The comfort kits for the hospital are fantastic! I wish I would have brought chap stick and lotion that first long hospital stay! When I got the bag I felt like you all were thinking about the kids and parents. That is really nice because we parents don’t always think about ourselves. Also, I love the medical binder.”
Through experience we know being prepared and equipped for long appointments plays a significant role in the parent’s ability to advocate for their child. When a parent is confident and a child is entertained the overall well-being of the family improves, and difficult medical situations become just a little easier.
Here’s How You Can Help
PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TODAY!
There are thousands of families in RVA caring for a child with a medically complex illness who have no non-medical support. Please consider donating today so Better2gether RVA can meet the needs of these deserving families and children.