What is Variety’s Compassion Fund?
Variety realized there is a compelling human need in which little help has been available. Over the years society has focused a great deal of energy and resources into finding a cure for life-threatening illnesses that victimize our children. That’s a wonderful thing and great advances are being made. The problem that begs for attention is the financial impact these long-term illnesses have on a child’s family. The emotional devastation goes without saying, but the financial damage can have a much longer negative impact. It’s a sad truth that many times the child survives the illness, but the family does not.
A recent study indicates that parents at any income level need thirty percent more money just to maintain status quo when a child has a catastrophic illness. The problem is; they always have less. Two income families suddenly lose one paycheck when a child is diagnosed. The “Compassion Fund” can’t really help with big items like mortgages and car payments, but it can help with the unexpected expenses related to hospitalization or frequent medical appointments. Items such as over night lodging, food while away from home, transportation and the ability to make an important phone call. It can even help with the small things like a hat for the child with no hair or a birthday party and cake. Variety usually provides no more than $500 per family, but will consider expectations in certain situations which require prior approval.
Social workers and medical staff are on the front lines when it comes to helping these families survive day to day. Sometimes they can help a weary parent with a meal, lodging or a few dollars in gas money to get a child to treatment. Sometimes they cannot. With access to the “Compassion Fund” at least they can offer some help to people who are on the verge of loosing all hope. If we can help them get through today, they will have hope for tomorrow.
“The Variety Compassion fund offers families the financial support they need when they need it the most. The families we assist have a child in the hospital who has either a chronic life condition or is facing a life altering event. When we offer this support to families, they often are tearful. This is for many reasons: first they are touched that others who they do not know supported the telethon and secondly from the sense of relief they have that somehow bills may be paid or they having the funding for food and transportation. Being in a hospital for any length time is expensive and this allows families to be with their child and not worry as much about expenses both at home and in the hospital.”
- Janet Mackey, Social Worker, Mercy Medical Center
Hospital social workers were interviewed in four states. A common thread in their response was that even the smallest amount of financial help gives a family an emotional boost that lasts for days or weeks. Just knowing that total strangers care about their problems gives strength to their determination to find the light at the end of the tunnel. We can help thousands of people see that light, maybe even before the end of the tunnel.