A dream for medically fragile children
By BRENDA HARRISON Editor of The News Journal Florence, S.C. Rachel Lee has a passion to see that medically fragile children have a home. Her dream began 22 years ago when she was a candy striper in a local hospital’s PICU where her mom worked.
Rachel was inspired by a young boy who lived in this unit from 9 months until age three because he was too ill to live at home and there was no place in South Carolina for him to go. At three, he was moved to a children’s home in North Carolina where he thrived and eventually was able to live with his mother, go to public school and attend prom.
“This is my heart for our children's home,” said Rachel, now a registered nurse in PICU and working on a bachelor’s degree so when the time comes she can serve as the director of the home. She, along with co-worker Amanda Braunwalder and five like-minded professionals, have established Heaven’s Hope. The group has obtained non-profit status.Now they are working to bring awareness and rally support for a loving children’s home for medically fragile children that meets their emotional, spiritual, medical, physical, social and educational needs.
Their vision for Heaven's Hope is a facility for medically fragile children that doesn’t have the feeling of a hospital.
Rachel says there are many children in South Carolina who are classified as medically fragile, due to chronic physical conditions which require them to depend long term or permanently on ventilators, specialized feeding/nourishment methods, supplemental oxygen, or specialized medical support. These dependencies require daily nursing care and supportive therapies.
The goal is to build a 10-bed facility, Rachel said.
South Carolina has a growing number of children with these conditions who live in the hospital Pediatric ICU units or in therapeutic foster homes, because their families are either unable to or are unwilling to care for them, she continued.
“I’m told if we were to open a facility today it would be filled right away,” she noted.
Because there is no such facility in South Carolina, there are no rules and regulations in place. So, legal advice and assistance is needed as the Heaven’s Hope Board continues its planning process for a building and staff.
Of course, financial support plays an important part in this dream. A Heaven’s Hope bank account has been established at First Reliance Bank and donations may be made online at heavenshopesc.com by clicking Donate on the bottom left of the home page.
Also, the group is planning a fund raiser in the fall called the Swamp Fox Highland Games and Celtic Festival. It will be held Nov. 17 at the Columns Plantation.
This will be a fun-filled day for the family, featuring highland game athletes, clans dressed in kilts and colors, Irish dancing, authentic food, vendors and a Kid’s Glenn with games and activities.
Tickets are $15 at the event or they may be purchased online at www.swampfoxgames.com.
“This will be our first major fund raiser,” said Amanda, media director for Heaven’s Hope. “It will be a total submersion of the Celtic culture and we are very excited to bring this event to the community for the first time.”