Here’s this month’s newsletter filled with ways you – our community! – are making a difference in the lives of children with serious illnesses. We also have some upcoming needs and events where we’d greatly appreciate your support.
Thank you for taking the time to read!
Executive Director & Co-Founder
Better2gether’s Meaningful and UnWavering Mission
Better2gether is dedicated to enhancing the lives of families with children facing medical complexities. Its mission is simple, yet powerful: to understand, equip and support. These three goals are designed to help families navigate the challenging journey of caring for a child with unique medical needs.
In this feature, we introduce you to three incredible families, each highlighting the tangible impact of Better2gether’s meaningful and unwavering mission.
Jordan’s* medical complexities were diagnosed in utero during his mother’s pregnancy. “Jordan’s family has been part of the Better2gether community literally since Day 1,” says Carissa Henry, MPH, LPN, CRS, Resource Coordinator. In her role as B2G’s Resource Coordinator, Carissa has connected with Jordan and his family in a variety of ways by demonstrating a true understanding of their unique needs. For example, Better2gether helped the family obtain a stroller that was appropriate for Jordan’s low muscle tone and able to transport his medical equipment. Additionally, Jordan’s mom was connected to other B2G families in the community who were walking on a similar medical journey. Jordan’s mom has attended multiple Moments Support Groups and Better2gether community events, gaining a sense of understanding not only by the organization but by the parents and families she’s met.
“I’ve loved watching Jordan grow over the last year and supporting his family as they overcome any obstacle that they’ve encountered,” Carissa shares. “It was so special when his mom, Angie, invited me to attend his first birthday party, and I was so honored to be part of this special event. Seeing his smile while we sang ‘Happy Birthday’ reminded me why I love being there for our families.”
Eleven-year-old Ryan has experienced multiple medical complexities over the years. Most recently, he has become fully dependent on a wheelchair. His mother, Jessie, needed to make some modifications to their home to promote wheelchair accessibility. She had received a debit card from the state to help fund these modifications. However, during the process of getting their home ready for the renovations, Jessie inadvertently misplaced the debit card.
“When I got a call from Jessie and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘I’m going to be in tears,’ I immediately jumped in to listen to what was going on,” says Carissa Henry, Resource Coordinator. “Jessie tried to find her original application for the debit card, searched frantically through papers in her filing cabinet, left voicemails to agencies, and Google searched until she couldn’t Google anymore.” She was feeling frustrated, scared, and overwhelmed.
Carissa made multiple phone calls to various agencies and did her own extensive searches online on the family’s behalf. Finally, Carissa found a resource that provided the information she needed to connect Jessie with someone who could help. Thanks to Carissa’s compassion, skills and determination, Jessie was equipped with a new debit card and received the funding she needed to pay for these important environmental modifications for her son.
As a single mother by choice, Talia spent her early months of pregnancy making plans for her new life as the mom of a child she had always wanted. However, what she couldn’t plan for were the unexpected medical complications that she – and her son – would experience during the pregnancy.
One-year-old Micah was born prematurely and had several complex medical challenges during his young life. When the family was referred to Better2gether, Carissa Henry, Resource Coordinator, provided Talia with resources and support to help navigate this new and challenging journey. An important source of support was the community programming provided by Better2gether.
“Talia really enjoyed Better2gether community events and connecting with other families, and she was especially looking forward to the Christmas event in December,” Carissa shares. “But just before the event, mom reached out to tell me that Micah was hospitalized, and they may not be able to make it.”
Because Micah was admitted for longer than anticipated, Carissa gathered the wrapped gift that was donated by Better2gether donors and supporters, along with a meal voucher and gift card to help pay for meals and gas while Micah was hospitalized and drove to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond to personally deliver them to the family. Talia was at the hospital with her sister, and they were both so grateful for the support their family received from Better2gether throughout the year, and especially during the holidays. “Micah loved the gift of the toy blocks,” says Carissa, “And his mom said he was playing with them throughout his hospital stay.”
*names and other identifying information have been changed for privacy
Together, we can bring about positive change
In December, we introduced you to a remarkable young boy named Henry, facing daily challenges that most of us can scarcely imagine. Henry’s mom, Brittany, made the difficult decision to have a G-tube surgically implanted to enhance his nutrition, transforming their lives in unforeseen ways. Navigating a complex maze of feedings and equipment became a daily reality, ensuring that every drop of nourishment mattered.
During a hospital visit, Brittany connected with a dietitian who provided invaluable guidance and crafted a customized plan tailored to Henry’s unique needs. This support proved to be a lifeline for the family, emphasizing the critical role that a dedicated dietitian plays in the lives of children like Henry.
Recognizing that not every family in our community has access to such support, Better2gether is determined to make a difference. We are committed to fully funding a dedicated dietitian position at the Complex Care Clinic. While we’re making progress towards our goal, we still need your support to ensure the success of this crucial initiative.
Would you consider making a special gift today to help us fund this essential dietitian role at the Complex Care Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR)? Your contribution, no matter the size, will significantly impact the lives of brave children like Henry and their families.
By supporting children who not only face medical complexities but also the daily challenges accompanying them, you become an integral part of their journey toward a brighter and healthier future. Your compassion and commitment can create a lasting impact on their lives.
Thank you for considering this opportunity to make a difference and for your dedication to helping children like Henry thrive. Together, we can bring about positive change and create a lasting impact on their lives!
Save the Date! The 2024 Golf Classic is Fast Approaching!
Save the Date and Join Us for the 2024 Better2gether Golf Classic presented by Call Federal on Thursday, May 16, at Magnolia Green Golf Club.
The 2023 Better2gether Golf Classic, presented by Call Federal Credit Union was a record event for having fun while raising funds to support seriously ill children in RVA.
We can’t wait to do it again and hope you will join Better2gether and Call Federal as we bring an incredible day of golf, prizes, and fun your way.
Mark your calendars for May 16, 2024 at Magnolia Green Golf Course. Want to be a sponsor? You can lock in your place today by reaching out to Stephanie Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Join Us In Raising Awareness of Rare Disease Day In February
Taking place every year on the last day of February, Rare Disease Day is a global movement which aims to promote equity in social opportunities, healthcare, and access to diagnosis and therapies for individuals living with rare diseases.
Join Better2Gether in support of Rare Disease awareness throughout the month of February. To show support for Rare Disease Day and Better2gether families, we invite you to participate in raising awareness and savoring a meal throughout the month of February at select Richmond area restaurant partners. A portion of the proceeds from these dining experiences will be donated to Better2Gether. Join us in making a difference and enjoy a meal that contributes to a worthy cause.
Support us by visiting the California Pizza Kitchen Short Pump location at 11800 W Broad St, Richmond on February 1, 8, 15, 22, 29. When you dine in or place a takeout order on these specific dates, be sure to mention “Better2Gether” to your server. This way, 20% of the sales from your meal will contribute to B2g. The fundraiser applies throughout the entire day, and your participation makes a significant impact.
Join us for a one-day fundraiser at all three Torcy’s Tacos locations on Saturday, February 24th. When you mention “Better2Gether” while placing your order, 15% of the sales will go towards supporting B2g. The fundraiser is valid throughout the entire day, covering both dine-in and takeout orders. Visit any of the three locations: Midlothian (1315 Huguenot Rd), Carytown (3510 W. Cary St), and Short Pump (11120 W. Broad St) to show your support.
Your participation will contribute to our cause, so mark your calendars and mention Better2Gether to your server when ordering at these restaurants on the specific dates mentioned above!
Here’s to the power of mustaches and making a difference together!
This is a hair-raising adventure that’s equal parts fun and charity! Better2gether is proud to be a beneficiary of M4K Richmond (Mustaches 4 Kids). This past November, the B2g Growers once again embraced the “for the kids” spirit by growing out mustaches to raise funds and awareness for Better2gether’s impactful initiatives.
Our mustache-growing crew hustled to raise $21,660 with 256 donors and M4K Richmond donated an additional $13,340 for a grand total of $35,000! Who knew a little mustache could make such a B-I-G impact?!
A heartfelt thank you to our amazing M4K Mustache-Growing Team! Your enthusiasm and dedication were truly remarkable as we embraced the fun and got hairy for a cause. Together, we not only had a blast but also made a significant impact on the lives of the children and families supported by Better2gether. Your commitment to raising funds and awareness for our impactful initiatives is truly appreciated.
Meet Thomas St John: B2g’s Newest Board Member!
Better2gether proudly welcomes Thomas St John as its newest board member, bringing a wealth of experience and a passionate commitment to making a difference. Currently serving as a Mortgage Loan Officer at Benchmark Mortgage, Thomas has been an integral part of the Richmond community for seven years.
Hailing from a military family in Hampton Roads, Thomas pursued his education at Salisbury University and graduated with a degree in Finance from Christopher Newport University. A dedicated lacrosse enthusiast, he gives back to the sport by officiating NCAA Division 1, 2, and 3 games. Additionally, Thomas chairs a business networking group in Bon Air, further solidifying his connections within the Richmond community.
Thomas’s journey with Better2gether began through a charity golf tournament, where his initial team participation ignited a passion for the cause. Meeting key figures like Sean Danowski and Stephanie Becker deepened his understanding of B2G’s mission, leading him to join the golf committee. Recognizing the critical role of raising awareness and funds, Thomas decided to further his involvement.
For Thomas, the most rewarding aspect of his B2g involvement lies in the tangible impact on the children and families supported by Better2gether. Creating a meaningful difference and providing a supportive community for these families is profoundly fulfilling. Witnessing the positive support only reinforces his commitment to B2G’s mission.
Thomas’s commitment to service is deeply rooted in his core beliefs and the fulfillment derived from helping others. “Instilled with empathy and compassion,” Thomas shared “I believe in giving back to the community, driven by the small acts of kindness and service witnessed during my upbringing.”
Leveraging his role as a Mortgage Lender, a profession inherently built on relationships, Thomas sees an opportunity to contribute to B2G’s growth. His goal is to establish trusting relationships that enhance and grow the organization, particularly focusing on development. Through his experience, he plans to spread B2G’s mission, establish trusting connections, and enhance the organization’s reputation in Central Virginia.
Looking ahead, Thomas envisions his role on the Board contributing significantly to the growth of B2G’s reputation and presence in Central Virginia. Leveraging his network, he aims to establish trusting relationships with donors, volunteers, and contributors. “With unwavering commitment,” Thomas said “I am dedicated to growing awareness and support for B2G, making a lasting impact on the organization and the greater Richmond community.”
Better2gether is thrilled to have Thomas St John on the board, where his expertise, compassion, and experiences promise to make a positive and lasting impact.
Meet Beth Simos: B2g’s New Head of Marketing & Engagement
We are kicking off the new year with exciting news: Our team is growing! We welcome Beth Simos as the Head of Marketing and Engagement. Beth brings over 25 years of strategic marketing and communications experience focusing on brand development, culture communications, community engagement, lead generation, referral development, and public relations. She has over 15 years of leadership experience building effective teams and working hand-in-hand with organizations on high-level operational leadership and strategic marketing efforts in both not-for-profit and for-profit sectors.
Beth is eager and enthusiastic about joining the Better2gether team. She shared, “I am honored to lend my passion for creating a positive impact to such a strong mission-driven organization.” Her commitment to supporting the organization’s focus on serving the community and families dealing with children impacted by complex medical challenges will help us move the organization forward. “In this position,” Beth said, “I look forward to playing a meaningful role and actively contributing to the organizations’ progress and its impact on the community and families with children dealing with complex medical challenges.”
We are thrilled to have Beth’s leadership on our team as we work together to impact families of children with complex illnesses across RVA.