Here’s the main takeaway from this blog post: Don’t take it personal, but it’s up to you, for us to make it personal. We intentionally used a common phrase here.
We have touched on our history and how much we’ve grown in a couple of different blog posts, Once Upon a Time and No More Changes, but this time we’re providing some specifics on how YOU can help us expand and turn another corner right now.
Here’s the personal part.
When I first started Cardz for Kidz, I was solely focused on delivering cards to pediatric patients at hospitals, since that’s all I knew; quote for University of Michigan’s Medical Center’s blog,
“Inspired by his time with Mott’s Child and Family Life team, Nwankwo started a nonprofit organization called Cardz for Kidz, which enlists volunteers to create homemade cards for children in the hospital.”
As highlighted in the Can’t Complain blog post, there were VERY strict guidelines with all of our partner hospitals. They had to guarantee all the cards were delivered room to room. Thankfully, in 2017 we started to experience a drastic increase in cards:
- Q1 to Q2 – 37% increase
- Q2 to Q3 – 22% increase
I took it personal. I began to think about my surgery and epilepsy experience in 2005. I thought about what I hated the most about that entire ordeal: the diagnosis, the tests, the meds, the appointments, and THE IMPACT.
Yes, I still have a decorated version of a will they asked me to complete 15+ years ago, but that didn’t mean as much.
Thankfully, my family was very supportive, but I’m sure as you all can imagine it was tough on them. As Cardz for Kidz grew, I decided we should not only think about the patients in the hospital since they may receive things (e.g. stuffed animals from their next-door neighbors and blankets from coworkers), but also think about their families, #familiestoo.
Blanket from my coworkers at Mott signed by my visitors
At first, I was only sending cards to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) on a one-time basis, but we’ve since started partnerships with a lot more of them. Since that decision to expand, we’ve sent over 31,000 cards to RMHCs around the world and purchased entertainment systems (2 this week), donated gift cards, and toiletries/masks to RMHC’s all the way from Australia to Minnesota.
Everything was going well. We were increasing our presence, donating cards AND we didn’t have to worry about changing our mission statement to include “families,” since we said we wouldn’t – www.cardzforkidz.org/no-more-changes. Then Q4 2018 happened.
- Q3 2018 – 7,297 cards
- Q4 2018 – 19,170 cards
At this point, we had already been sending cards to several Ronald McDonald House Charities and I wasn’t sure what to do. I started to think back about my days in 2005. I was also so focused on how my brain surgery was tough for my whole family, but I never really stopped to think about how blessed I was to have the support of my whole family. As noted in the blog post, I still have the Piece of Paper that my brother gave me framed on my wall to this day.
We’re sending cards to Akron Children’s Hospital because my sister is a Pediatric Neurologist with a specialty in epilepsy there. Yep, you read that right. A specialty in epilepsy. No, it’s not a coincidence.
Based on that support, I immediately realized we should reach out to kids who go through situations without as much support as I did. If they went to the hospital and there wasn’t a family member to be there for them, someone they knew ALL their life right by their side, I knew we had to step in to help. Since we had enough cards, we expanded our reach to start including Foster Homes and Orphanages in Q1 2019. Based on that decision, we’ve been able to send over 23,000 cards and have started partnerships with multiple locations.
Two of our partners where we received pictures and donated entertainment systems.
Now the whole point of this blog post is to give you all a heads up that we’re awfully close. This quarter we’re sending thousands of cards to senior homes and, based on COVID-19, we’re expanding our reach to a new Make-A-Wish to see if the kids who got their wishes delayed need some encouragement while they wait. But after this initial bump in shipments, if we can keep the number of cards coming in, we can expand.
Who knows, maybe if we get monetary donations and cards in more languages, it’ll just be expanding to new countries. Although my head is lopsided due to my brain surgery, I usually have to tell people I have a special ability, but it’s not something they can tell right away. Maybe it’ll be expanding our presence with some of the Special Olympics and kids with conditions that are more pronounced.
As mentioned in the beginning, our ability to expand and reach more vital members of this community who are overcoming hardships is IN YOUR HANDS. We’re very close and hopefully things continue to grow!