Youth in action

“What you all don’t know,” Ken said, “Is that my bride of 57 years inside has Alzheimer’s and I just had another round of radiation therapy.” That’s when the YouthWorks Council took action!

YouthWorks at Virginia Mason Memorial has been busy with community service projects!  In 3 months, they have racked up 127 hours of service time, assisting patients in need. They staged a successful food drive, restocking the family kitchen at Cottage in the Meadow, and they took an afternoon to rake and winterize the large yard of a palliative care patient whose wife has Alzheimer’s. The teens set up and decorated the couple’s Christmas tree with them, reveling in the memories shared through the 60-year accumulation of holiday ornaments.  What a touching scene, honoring the lives of strangers who are, perhaps, celebrating their last Christmas together.  Imagine that family’s peace, being able to carry on their traditions with the help of compassionate teenagers.

What is YouthWorks? Coordinated through The Memorial Foundation, the 2016-17 YouthWorks Council is comprised of twenty Valley teens.  The council has focused largely on the Children’s Initiative, mentoring children with special health care needs, learning about philanthropy and fundraising, and getting a peek into the many facets of the health care world.  New YouthWorks coordinator Josh Munson of The Memorial Foundation is determined to ‘step up the experience and impact’ of the council members, and has been introducing them to our other 3 main health initiatives.  Watch for updates on their activities and community service projects in the months to come.

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Classes and support groups are available

North Star Lodge, Virginia Mason Memorial’s comprehensive cancer care center, offers a wealth of ground-breaking technologies, leading clinical trials, and complementary services, right here, in Yakima. All cancer care patients and their caregivers, families and friends are welcome to participate in cancer care classes and support groups  to renew their mind, body and spirit.  Many are provided at no charge through generous donations to The Memorial Foundation.

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Learning and growing at Children’s Village

Assuming her son Max was just a late crawler, Brooke Hamilton-Neufeld went to the Children’s Village website for information. The self-referral team, a physical therapist, nurse, and others, evaluated Max and referred him to early intervention services. Max started with a physical therapist who came to his home for five months.

Later, Brooke and Max began seeing Children’s Village occupational therapist Sue, who worked with the family every week for ten months. More importantly, “Miss Sue” made therapy fun for Max. To improve his fine and gross motor abilities, Sue used obstacle courses that included various exercises, swings, and climbing. Thanks to his family and Sue’s support and guidance, Max is now a five-year-old who can stand on one foot, hop and hold a pen properly.

Brooke appreciates the staff welcoming her family when they arrive and allowing Max to check himself in. Sometimes the Village childcare watches Brooke’s two-year-old son Miles while she and Max attend therapy sessions. As he prepares to complete preschool, Max still keeps connected with Children’s Village for occupational therapy. Max is growing up with fond memories of his time with Miss Sue at Children’s Village.

Community support for Children’s Village helps provide vital services for the more than 4,800 children served at the Village each year.

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Compass Care is growing!

Announcing the expansion campaign for Cottage in the Meadow and Compass Care programs!  After four years in operation, our in-patient hospice care facility, built through community support, is expanding by eight patient suites, and programs are growing to meet patient and family needs.  We are over half way to our campaign goal of $4.5 million, and we need your help!  Please remember the important mission of hospice in your philanthropic planning this year and consider giving generously when called upon.

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A Thrill of Hope

Ken and Connie live in a beautiful, yet modest, brick house. Standing outside, it is evident that it is more than just a house; it radiates the feeling that this is a home. After stepping inside, the feeling is reinforced by pictures of family, friends and grandkids covering the walls and fridge, the beautiful knick-knacks that decorate the tops of shelves and cabinets, and the overly-excited greeting by their dog Tucker.

What you can’t see standing outside looking in at the warm glow of the house is a cupboard full of medicine, the table covered with gauze, bandages and medical devices, and the love that Ken exudes as he helps care for his wife who now has Alzheimer’s. While this journey alone is exhausting for the couple, Ken is undergoing radiation therapy and receives out-patient palliative care through Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital’s Home Health and Hospice.

Lindsey Catton, the volunteer services coordinator at Cottage in the Meadow, was approached by Ken’s palliative care social worker about the possibility of having volunteers winterize Ken and Connie’s yard. Lindsey recognized that this was a need that had to be met, so she reached out to the YouthWorks Council, The Memorial Foundation’s group of 20 student volunteers representing seven high schools across the Yakima Valley. Without knowing the couple’s story, the students jumped at the opportunity to help community members who needed a little extra help around their house.

On December 6, after a full day of school, extracurricular-club meetings, and sports practices, eight of the YouthWorks Council members arrived to help prepare the yard for the upcoming winter weather. After an hour of raking leaves and cleaning out flower beds and bushes, Ken thanked the group for the act of kindness.

“What you all don’t know,” Ken said, “Is that my bride of 57 years inside has Alzheimer’s and I just had another round of radiation therapy.” The teenagers’ eyes widened and hearts opened. “As you can see I can’t walk very well or do a whole lot with my arms. This never would have got done without you.” He continued, “How can I ever thank you?”

Lindsey had mentioned to Josh Munson, the program coordinator of YouthWorks, that Ken and Connie might need help getting their Christmas tree out of the garage. When asked about the tree, Ken replied that he couldn’t ask for any more help and besides, the group needed to get home for supper. Without a second of hesitation each volunteer expressed that they would stay there until the couple’s tree was up and decorated.

The group went straight to work: Braedon, Gunnar and Jorge carried the tree and ornament boxes inside from the shed, while Mykah helped string lights and strands of cranberry-red beads around the tree. Brienn, Dani, Kailea, and Kayla delicately unwrapped ornaments as the group listened to Ken and Connie reminisce over the almost 60 years of Christmas memories each ornament represented. Braedon had the honor of topping the tree with its homemade angel. Together the group decorated the tree and helped honor the lives of strangers by welcoming Christmas into their home. For an evening, if even just an hour or two, Ken and Connie rejoiced and reflected on the Christmas memories shared together instead of anticipating what is ahead in their journey. The peace that overwhelmed the room was felt by all.

As the YouthWorks Council said their goodbyes and wished Ken and Connie merry Christmases, Ken exclaimed to Josh, “What a true Christmas miracle.”

While the group may never fully comprehend what this compassion meant to Ken and Connie during a time of great need in their lives, the couple may never realize the effect this night had on the lives of each student volunteer. The group walked away openly committing to help the couple with more yard work, snow removal, or wherever there is a need.

With this final thought in mind, after leaving the couple’s warm brick home that is so evidently full of love, a well-known carol played on the radio with a lyric that resonated like never before:

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!


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Making Lifestyle Changes

People in Yakima really want to make lifestyle changes in order to avoid getting Type 2 diabetes. Here are some of the testimonials from some of our diabetes education program participants:

  • “The program helped me in many ways.  It took food consumption from the unconscious to the conscious.  I also regained the desire to exercise.”
  • “Now, I carefully consider what I put into my body. I never talk about dieting…. this is a lifestyle change.”
  • “Writing down my food in a journal really was eye opening.”
  • “I now realize that this is a lifetime goal and eating out all the time was not good for me.”
  • “I enjoyed meeting other people with the same struggles and loved sharing ideas among our group.  Being accountable for what I eat and how much I exercise has really helped me.”

Hear from one of our successful participants who lost 100 lbs. and now serves as a lifestyle coach at:

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A Grateful Dad 


“We really appreciated having the Children’s Village Kid’s Club at Toys R Us recently.  What a wonderful experience to see my Toys R Us team interact with the kids and see those smiles. As we wrapped up the event, I received multiple comments from my team about how that reminds us of the joy we can bring to kids’ lives by them being at a toy store.  We forget that sometimes with the pressures of being a ‘business’.

My team has watched my little, sweet girl grow up and have a good understanding of some of the challenges a special needs child can bring.  But they also recognize the joy she brings.  They treat her like a queen, celebrate her wins, and cry for her struggles.  Watching them with the children today reminded me how blessed I am to have people that care around me.  Children’s Village has been a huge part of that understanding and realization.  I thank you for the work you do, the care you show, and the difference you each make. Thank you!”

–Ryan Kloepfer

Your support of Children’s Village programs gives hope to families coping with the day to day struggles of dealing with unique special health care needs. 

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Champions for Survivorship

We salute the hundreds of compassionate people in our community who rally for the fight against breast cancer.  Your efforts do make a difference! 

You just can’t ignore ‘pink October’…everyone seems to want to join the fight against breast cancer!  Simply stated, a breast cancer diagnosis, like any other, has the potential to devastate whole families.  When “the mom’s” future is threatened, the family feels threatened.

Ginger Tyler, from Selah Insurance Services, is one of those who fights back.  A fervent believer in sharing the importance of early breast cancer detection, she has twice presented a sell-out fundraiser to provide scholarships for those who don’t have the resources for a screening mammogram.  Joined by two women who are currently receiving treatment, the crowd celebrated survivorship and awareness, and had a rousing, fun-filled evening of camaraderie as well.  The best part of Ginger’s efforts?  Thirteen women from the event have since had their first mammogram!  That’s thirteen families with new peace of mind and an eye on a long, healthy future.  It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for your efforts in helping with early diagnosis, less-invasive treatment, and the journey toward a cure for breast cancer.  Your support helps keep families together.

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Speaking from the Heart

“Cottage in the Meadow allowed me to just be her son at the end of my mom’s life.”  Jason Schilling spoke from the heart when he told his story at the Cottage in the Meadow Garden Reception this past fall.  From the time of her diagnosis, all Jason wanted was to take care of his mother the way she had always cared for him. It wasn’t until she was admitted that he realized how much he and his children also needed the solace of Cottage in the Meadow.  They let the professionals take over the medical care, and the family was then able to be there to support his mom and say good-bye without worrying about the caregiving details.  Coincidentally, Jason’s wife, Laura, started her first day as a nurse at the Cottage on the day her mother-in-law was admitted.  She felt fortunate to have the team supporting her family through the ordeal of their mother’s passing. And now, softened by the heartbreaking lessons of experience, Laura carries on, tenderly supporting other families as they are caressing the hand of their own loved ones for the last time.

Your gifts have helped Jason and so many other families like his as they lovingly say good-bye to their loved ones.

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