A Message from Our Executive Director
A new year often brings resolutions to start fresh, and make changes to the old or begin something new. For families caring for children with medically complex illnesses, the beginning of 2021 may bring very little change. Without a handle on the Coronavirus, many are forced to continue to exercise the utmost in caution to protect their children with rare or chronic illness. Quarantine is still the rule for others.
Better2gether RVA will continue to understand, support and equip families caring for medically complex children by finding creative and effective ways to deliver virtual programming that impacts them directly. We are grateful for all the ways you support us on this journey.
Likes: Playing in the pool and being outdoors
Dislikes: Silence and being uncomfortable
– Physical Therapy
– Speech Therapy
– Occupational Therapy
Seven-year-old Josue has experienced significant medical challenges in his young life. Born prematurely, he is dependent on a G-tube for feeding, and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy with spastic quadriplegia, cortical blindness, and renal dysplasia.
Yet, he has also experienced profound love and joy.
“Whether he’s listening to his big brother Karter’s music or sitting in Karter’s company while Karter plays video games, Josue loves just being around people because he is such a big part of our lives,” says mom Kendria.
Being outdoors and spending time with family are some of the things Josue treasures most. “He loves human contact and he loves to have someone just talk to him,” Kendria explains.
One of the things Josue’s parents, Kendria and Bryant, treasure most is seeing him smile. “His smile lights up a room,” says Kendria.
The demands of caring for a child with medically complex illnesses is a full-time commitment that’s lovingly demonstrated by Josue’s family every day.
“We know that not every day is going to be easy, but it is a joy just to have him as part of our family,” Kendria shares. “Every day when he opens his eyes and smiles at me, each day that we have him is a gift.”
Better2gether RVA celebrated the holiday a little differently this year; however, the excitement was still the same. “Drive-thru” Santa allowed for pictures, gift requests, and lots of laughs with our B2G children and their siblings.
Thanks to the generosity of our community donors, we provided our families with fun toys, cookie decorating kits, art supplies, grocery gift cards, and all things that provide warmth on cold, winter days such as blankets, hats, and mittens.
Virtual Cookie Decorating Party
Brooks and his brothers enjoyed decorating (and eating) their yummy cookies.
Christmas Under the Clocktower
Ann Mitchell, Stephanie Becker, D.D. Bascom
Christmas Under the Clocktower, presented by Community First, was an opportunity for 10 local nonprofits to raise awareness and funds at the end of a tough year. Each nonprofit decorated a Christmas tree on display at Main Street Station. The community voted for their favorite tree ($1 per vote) and the tree with the most votes won $2,000, second place received $1,000 and the other 8 charities each received $250.
The Better2gether RVA team of Ann Mitchell, D.D. Bascom, Ashley Foster and Katie Zacherle worked with Stephanie Becker to design and decorate a fun and meaningful tree, with the help of key volunteers Susan Zebley and Trinh Green.
The Grinch Stole 2020 was the theme. Little Whoville characters with the faces of the children we support could be found as ornaments throughout the tree, along with whimsical decorations.
After three weeks of voting, we are thrilled to announce The Grinch Tree did not disappoint, and Better2gether won first place! We are grateful to the volunteers and donors that helped make this event a success. We raised $7,413 in donations and had the opportunity to tell RVA about the only nonprofit providing support to families of children with rare and complex medical illnesses. We thank you!
We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to our volunteers, donors and community partners that supported us throughout 2020. While we all adjusted the challenges presented in 2020, many chose to use their time and resources to support Better2gether.
Better2gether RVA is grateful to each and every contributor that impacted our organization and the additional resources we were able to provide as a result of their giving back. From food and toy drives, to virtual 5ks and cookie decorating, donations of cleaning supplies, masks and holiday gifts, our corporate partners, donors and volunteers allowed us to be a key resource to families that face the most challenging of times. Your support proved to be vitally important and we are so grateful to you.
We would particularly like to thank these community partners:
- Kiwanis of Midlothian-Chesterfield
- ICL Foundation
- Community First
- Melissa’s Simply Sweet
- Reveille United Methodist Church
- Laptops for Learning with Love
- Friendship Circle
- Save RVA Restaurants
- The Underground Kitchen
- Seasonal Roots
We are so grateful for their partnerships throughout 2020.
Pictured wrapping gifts are Jennifer of the Chesterfield Rotary Club and Debra Shockey, B2G Board Member.
The Conrad Family
Alisa Dick with Kiwanis of Midlothian – Chesterfield
We are so appreciative of the generous support we received throughout the holiday season from various businesses, community organizations, and individual donors. You brightened our B2G children’s spirits and smiles with gifts of fun toys, warm hats and gloves for our special event as well as financial contributions.
Better2gether RVA children, their siblings and even parents enjoyed our first in a series of art workshops beginning in December thanks to Mary Grace Walsh and our teacher, Tara Corrigan. Concentration, bright smiles and frame-worthy works of art were created under the guidance of Tara who provided step-by-step instruction using acrylic paints during two, virtual sessions. Our children were so proud of their “Outer Space” paintings, and we are beyond grateful for our partnership with Mary Grace along with all of her hard work in organizing the classes as well as fundraising for the various art supplies.
Together Apart is a Capstone Project developed by Mary Grace who is a graduating senior at James River High in the Center of Leadership and International Relations. She along with the support of her advisors–Alexis Nichols, Jan Kirby, RN and Robin Foster, MD both of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU are providing wonderful opportunities for our B2G children and their families.
We are beyond grateful for our partnership with Tara and Mary Grace along with all of their work.
Burger Bach Fundraiser
February 28, 2021 is Rare Disease Day and we are celebrating the children we support all month by partnering with Burger Bach’s Give Back Program.
- During the month of February, Better2gether will receive $1 from every Burger of the Month they sell.
- All four Richmond Burger Bach restaurants will be participating in this event (Midlothian, Carytown, Short Pump and Charlottesville).
- They also have an option available to donate without purchasing the burger if you prefer something else but still want to give back.
We are grateful for the partnership with Burger Bach in February and hope you will join us in eating great burgers in support of Better2gether RVA.
Save the Date!
The 2021 Better2gether RVA Charity Classic will be held May 13th at The Golf Club at The Highlands. Sponsorship packages are available starting January 3rd.
Please reach out to Stephanie Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in becoming a valuable sponsor!
An easy way to support Better2gether is to shop through Amazon Smile and select Better2gether as your charity. AmazonSmile is a simple way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. Sign in to smile.amazon.com on your desktop or mobile phone browser. Go to Your Account and select the Charity. Better2gether will be listed as an option. As a result of you shopping through Amazon Smile, Amazon will donate a to Better2gether for every purchase you make!
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 can meet the needs of these deserving families and children.
About Better2gether RVA
While support services abound in Richmond for families of children fighting well-known illnesses like cancer and juvenile diabetes, currently nothing exists for families of children battling more rare and complex illnesses. Better2gether RVA, is dedicated to the belief that all families of children battling illness — regardless of their diagnosis — deserve access to resources and support services. Since 2017, the organization has provided mentorship, counsel and recreational programming for families of children diagnosed with complex medical illnesses, plus valuable resources for treatment and its associated costs. Learn more at www.better2getherrva.org.