All the Reasons We Love FoodE

In October, right after FGP had our big break and our local paper did an article on us, we quickly reached out to the community for support. One of the restaurants that we approached for date nights for the moms and dads we support was FoodE. At the time, FoodE wasn't even a year old but having eaten there I knew that it was worth pursuing because the food is truly mouth watering.

All the Reasons We Love FoodE:

1. During a meeting to establish a partnership, they didn't kick me out when my daughter, loudly, exclaimed that she didn't like the cookie she was eating (Which I quickly shoved in my mouth as an apology. The melting chocolate chips and perfectly delicious cookie caused me to wonder, in that moment, if Annalise might be  missing her taste buds). Not only did they not kick me out, but they laughed loudly!

2. They still agreed to partner with us even after my daughter did the above AND Beth jokes about it when she sees me.

3. They provide one family each month with a date night. A night for these couples to get away from cancer and enjoy each other and delicious, farm fresh food.

4. They have offered to bring the meals to the couples' homes if it is too hard to get out.

5. They are flexible when it comes to scheduling.

6. They treat the couples like royalty.

7. They have welcomed us and the families as part of the FoodE family.

8. Their mushroom soup...honestly, it has been almost a year since I ate it and my mouth waters even now thinking about it.

9. Their burgers (this one is for Stephanie, Director of Photography,  who is obsessed with the burgers)

10. Their blog

11. That they can put cabbage in eggs and make it one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.

12. Everything on their menu I have ever tasted. Guess where I am going this weekend?


Thank you, Beth and Joy for all you do for our families! We truly love that you are part of our team! 
 
If you are looking for a place to eat out, try FoodE!
 1006 C / D Caroline Street
Fredericksburg, Va 22401
Tele: 540.479.1370

FGP From the Inside: Week 8



 Words from Laura Leporati, Richmond Coordinator




 As a parent of two little girls, I can’t imagine the torment of watching them go through a cancer diagnosis.  When my oldest daughter was 2 ½ years old, she had to be hospitalized for what turned out to be a bad virus.  For a few days, we did not know what was wrong and even though I tried not to go there, I imagined the worst.  She went through many tests, pokes and uncomfortable situations and it was traumatizing for all of us.  A couple of times we had to hold her down for them to complete their procedures, while she screamed in fright.  At the end of her hospitalization, I looked at my husband and said, “Can you imagine what parents go through when their kids are really sick?”
Over the last year or so, a series of events have led me to get more involved with the pediatric cancer community.   Through Facebook and various blogs, I read what parents go through when their kids really are sick.  And it changed me.  I’ve learned to appreciate the small things, to create memories with my family, and that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  And a little voice in the back of my head kept whispering, “Do something.”  So last year, I organized a 5k race for another pediatric cancer organization and was overwhelmed at the response and support from the community and how much FUN the day was!
During my planning for that race, I learned about Fairy Godmother Project and contacted Andie to tell her that I would love to help in any way.  Little did I know that she would come back to me and say, “How about starting a Richmond Chapter?”    Although it was a little overwhelming at first, I realized how awesome it would be to get involved with such a wonderful organization and helping local families going through difficult times.  I told Andie that I only had 5-7 hours per week to give, but have found that I now give about 15 hours per week.  It’s amazing how much time you can find to give to an organization that you love!
The Richmond Chapter has onl
y been in operation since January but we already have an amazing group of volunteers doing great things for one Richmond family.  As time passes and the word spreads about us, we will surely be gaining more families.  In order to help them, we’ll need more volunteers and support from the Richmond community.  I guarantee you that whatever your interest or talent is, we can find a way for you to help Fairy Godmother Project here in Richmond.  

If you have that little voice in the back of your head whispering, “Do something”, please contact Laura at Richmond@fairygodmotherproject.org.




FGP From the Inside: Week 7

From our Program Director, Andie McConnell

"The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up." Mark Twain

When our newsletter went out, my aunt sent me an email saying she was making a donation to FGP (YAY!). She also wrote that she was amazed at what I had been doing especially with 3 children. She isn't the only one to point out that having young kids and starting a nonprofit don't seem to go hand in hand.  The reality is for me, they do. I have never been happier with myself as a mom than I am now. I had many days in the first years of motherhood where I felt unappreciated and unchallenged but FGP solves all that and more for me.


1. I have a whole new perspective on everyday things. A cold? Big deal. Stitches? So what? A sleepless night? No problem. My children may bring me challenges from time to time, but they are alive and they are healthy. I embrace that and them  in a way I never did before.

2. I am fulfilled, enriched and challenged. Being those three things helps me handle the blubbering, whining and tears easier than in the past. Knowing there is a meeting with another nonprofit in the morning or a scheduled call later in the evening helps me make my way through these challenges.  Being fulfilled, enriched and challenged  allows me to still be smiling when my husband gets home from work (most days).

3. I make my time with my kids count. I used to spend the afternoon chatting on the phone with girlfriends but now I try to avoid that and be available to my children. Today I was very available and read 22 books in one sitting (Yawn).

4. I am setting a great example for them. I am showing them what it means to give back. And  I am showing that if you work hard, and surround yourself with like minded people, you can accomplish your goals.

Mark Twain was definitely right. Working with these families cheers me because I am helping to cheer them. 

Interested in cheering yourself up by helping FGP families? Please email us at info@fairygodmotherproject.org




FGP From the Inside: Week 6

Lisa Mendelow serves on our board as the DC Coordinator

As a single person with no kids living in urban DC, there was a much better chance of my getting involved at a nearby homeless shelter, tutoring inner city kids, donating clothes... or doing a myriad of other city dweller-type volunteer activities. Sure, I gave some time or money here and there, because I do feel strongly about contributing to my surrounding community and making a difference. 

But then a year ago the unexpected happened... and has continued to happen ever since, in ways both agonizingly beautiful and heart-rending: A little girl in my neighborhood, whose parents I knew only peripherally was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer just after her first birthday. BOMBSHELL, to say the least. Then the next surprise: I fell in love with this child and her family and came to know them and others like them through the wonderful world of blogs. I still can't say what the pull was, but something in me was drawn to reach out and give of myself in a way beyond just feeling obliged to be a good citizen of the world. This was REAL to me and yet, short of volunteering at a hospital, running a race or raising money for research, what could I REALLY do to make a difference? 

Cue unexpected item #3: Finding FGP, an organization based an hour away from the gritty city, in bucolic Fredericksburg, VA. 

I learned of FGP on a family's blog and reached out to Andie right away. At the time, she and Stephanie were pretty much the only volunteers, driven by their own passion and determination, but ready to accept any help one was willing to give. I dug in right away, helping with a new logo, working directly with a family in Alexandria, working on the new website and putting together a training session for new volunteers. And in between, Andie and I would spend literally hours on the phone bouncing ideas around for ways to grow this little grassroots operation. Throughout, I've been just astounded at the capacity for kindness I've witnessed, whether it be Andie and Stephanie -- two people whose lives weren't directly touched by cancer, who literally pour their hearts and souls into this cause -- or the mom of "my family" -- who, despite being a single parent with a sick child, still finds it in her to give her own time to help less fortunate single moms.

When I first connected with FGP, I had no idea it was possible to make a direct impact in such a short time, and most importantly, to continually learn from and be inspired by these new friends. Yes, the pain of seeing little ones and their families suffer is beyond unbearable, but it just fuels even more of a desire to make things at least just a little easier for them. I guess it's no wonder, then, that FGP has grown by leaps and bounds. After all, when you're driven by passion, what else can you expect?!

Would you like to witness the capacity for kindness in those involved with FGP? Email us at volunteers@fairygodmotherproject.org! 

FGP From the Inside: Week 5 and a Half

Erin Kessel serves on our board as an Assistant Director
 


I have the distinct privilege of being related to FGP’s own Andie McConnell!  And although I have more than 35 first cousins, I can honestly say that I adore my cousin Andie (Andrea as I know her).  So, last year, when Andie sent out information regarding Journey 4 A Cure's Vote4aCure contest, I felt compelled to vote.  And that is when my eyes were opened to the world of pediatric cancer. 

I work in a rather business-oriented, non-emotional field of the law.  Like some of our other board members, FGP fills a void in my life.  To know we are truly making a difference in the lives of families who are so deserving is the BEST feeling.  And so I do what I can to help my cousin, help FGP, and help these families. 

Perhaps my motives for joining FGP are selfish, but I can honestly say that I envy Andie – to see the fulfillment FGP has given her life and how passionate she is about the families and the mission, are understatements.  And if I can have just a fraction of the same fulfillment, I’ll take it.


Interested in filling a void in your life by making a difference in the lives of pediatric cancer families? Join us! Email volunteer@fairygodmotherproject.org
 

FGP From the Inside: Week 5

Our series From the Inside took a few weeks rest but is back now! Here is another inside look from our Director of Programs, Andie McConnell. 
On Monday, we will hear from board member, Erin Kessel and Friday from DC Coordinator and board member, Lisa Mendelow. Stay tuned!


Often when I am in meetings with potential volunteers or  donors or when I am talking to friends or family, I am asked the same 2 questions about FGP.  I thought it might be worth an explanation here for those who might have just found us!

1. How did you even get involved in this?
Pediatric cancer seemed to be a recurring theme in my life. Thankfully, none of my family members have had it but I repeatedly learned of children with it.  I never had a connection to a child with cancer but repeatedly to family members of one which is why our mission focuses on the families.
In 2002, I taught a sweet little girl whose older brother had brain cancer. I remember that little girl so well and the sadness in her face, how quiet and reserved she was about all that was going on in her life and I remember her loving parents.  Parents who were facing the worst but still made it in for conferences for their healthy child. I remember their concern over her getting lost in the shuffle because of all that was going on in their family and their struggles because their extended family was states away through all of this. Then, in 2003, there was the neighbor in Phoenix whose son survived brain cancer and she shared how people they expected to support them disappeared and those that they didn't expect to support them were their biggest supporters. Then in 2009, I met Jill and, I can honestly say, my whole world changed. You can read all about that here.  When I surveyed families facing pediatric cancer, I realized the need for family support wasn't just in the families I had met, but in any family facing pediatric cancer. It was then that I decided that I needed to do what I hoped someone would do for me if one of my children was diagnosed with cancer.


2.Isn't it depressing doing what you do?
I can honestly say no. I think in lots of ways life can be depressing. I mean really: there is illness, sadness, death and grief all around us, but there is also joy, laughter, love and friendship. Working with FGP families is the same thing. There are aspects of it that are, of course, sad but there is so much joy in helping others, knowing that we are brightening the days of parents facing one of the worst imaginable scenarios and that there are volunteers out there who are feeling like they have made a difference because of FGP. What is depressing about that? Nothing. The reality is that cancer is everywhere. 46 children a day are diagnosed. We can either cringe and hide from that stat or know that we are doing what we can to take away a bit of stress as those families face the reality of their children's diagnoses. I choose the latter.


Number 3 often comes via email.

3. I have a friend who has cancer and she is the mother to 3 little ones and they could really use help. Can you provide them with some?(or some similar story)
This question always pulls at our heartstrings. I know our Photography Director has been faced by this question on a few occasions as well. The answer is we would LOVE to help, but we simply can't. We have a mission that we follow that was developed because of our inspiration and we have to stick to it. The one time we make an exception, the flood gates will open. We are trying to be fair and focused. I know this lets some people down and I am truly sorry for that. There is so much need and sadness in our world that if we didn't focus on one need, we would be overwhelmed with requests and not have the resources to meet the needs of families facing pediatric cancer.

Andie McConnell is our Director of Programs. If you have questions for her or are interested in volunteering, please email andie@fairygodmotherproject.org .

FGP From the Inside: Week 4

From Sue Ann who is a board member and Lead Volunteer.  

I am not sure if I found Fairy Godmother Project, or if it found me. It all started a little over a year ago when I answered a request for donations to help a little girl's family. Andie and I met in the YMCA parking lot and the ripple effect began! I volunteer with the Fairy Godmother Project believing we should take care of each other. I have lived in a lot of places without family nearby to rely on for support. If not for friends and sometimes strangers stepping up, some seasons of my life would have been much more difficult.

I cannot personally repay everyone, so I pay it forward. I started out slow, pitching in where I could at events and organizing a fundraiser. Over the past few months, my role has expanded. I am now privileged to be the lead volunteer for a family. I keep them informed about resources available through Fairy Godmother Project, such as when their meals will be delivered. I have learned so much in the last year. My new circle of friends is one of the best parts of being a volunteer with Fairy Godmother Project!

Are you interested in paying it forward? If so, please email volunteer@fairygodmotherproject.org!

FGP From The Inside: Week 3

From Caroline, FGP's Meal Coordinator:
As my friend told me one day, "I'm drowning in drool and baby talk."  Ah yes, I remember those days.  Still today, so much of my life is about the kids and the family and making it all work.  I couldn't wait to start something that I could call my own - - not as "Adam's Mom" or "Rob's wife" but for me.
That's where Fairy Godmother (FGP) came into play.  I started nice and slow - - once a month, while I cooked dinner for my family, I just doubled the recipe and delivered it (with kids in the car) to one of the FGP families.  My concern about having to make "small talk" with a family I didn't know were eased when I learned all I had to do was leave the food in the cooler outside their home.  My kids would ask questions, and I would tell them that this family has a sick child who has lots of doctor visits so making dinner for them once in a while helped out the family.  They understood.... and they learned... and they cared... and it mattered... and it made me proud.
I have since expanded my role with Fairy Godmother Project and now coordinate the meal schedule between volunteers and FGP Families.  I LOVE IT!  I love that the volunteers are enthusiastic to help.  I love that the volunteers are committed to helping other families.  I love that volunteers make a difference whether they make a meal once a month or every week.  I love that volunteers share their experiences with their friends and ask them to volunteer once a month. 
While I secretly hope that someday there won't be a need for Fairy Godmother Project, until that time I look forward to contributing my time to this amazing organization!
Caroline's daughter made this at school this week. It says, "I have a dream to make dinners for people who have sick children."


 Would you like to do something that is just for you that will help a family with a child fighting cancer? Want to make a meal? Email Caroline at meals@fairygodmotherproject.org 

What's Happening?

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'- Martin Luther King, jr.

Every Martin Luther King Day, I (Andie) start my morning reading over his quotes, thinking about the meaning in my life and ways I can teach my children about MLK. I always try to focus on who he was and what he stood for in his short life. This morning, the above quote caught my eye and made me think of the value of what FGP is doing for those in the pediatric cancer community.  Because I am doing weekly, "What's Happening" posts, this seemed an appropriate quote to use this morning.  Here is this week's answer to MLK's question:


1.  Gas cards for families were picked up from our amazing donor!

2. We met with teachers from Stafford's  Learn and Serve about the upcoming fundraising event being planned by their students for us! More details to follow but get ready for a Medieval Festival in May! Thank you, Rachel and Ashley:) and all the amazing Learn and Serve kids!
 
3. We have six new volunteer applicants.

4. As always, lots of meals were made:)

5.We had a few purchases from our 2 fundraisers but would love to see more. We have the bags from Thirty-One Fundraiser and the charms from Nomades

6.  We held our first board meeting last night and it was a huge success. We have AMAZING people on board!! (I could list all the decisions made, but you might get bored)!

7. We voted on a winner for our newsletter and chose Godmother Gazette!

8. We completed all content for our first ever Godmother Gazette which will be delivered to your inbox on February 1st!

9. Plans were made for a Qdoba Spirit Night on the 20th of February. 


Have a great week!!!

If you are interested in doing for others, please email info@fairygodmotherproject.org for more information.




FGP From the Inside: Week 2



 FGP Photography Program: More than just Kodak paper

I love my job as a photographer for two reasons:  the moments I spend with families and the impact the portraits have on them.  Some clients I only see once, others I see annually as their family photographer.  Either way, they leave an imprint on me.  As a Fairy Godmother Project photographer, this experience is even more profound.  When I do a session with a family who is battling pediatric cancer, I get a glimpse into their family during a challenging time.  I see laughter, bonds, worry, silliness, hope, love.  The underlying knowledge we share as we stroll around a park together is that we are taking these pictures with a new appreciation.  These moments are more precious than ever before, no matter what kind of cancer they battle or what the diagnosis, the world looks different now and every minute is more important.  I'm so thankful for the time that I spend with them, walking next to them and wanting to do something to brighten their day.


The gift of portraits is priceless.  We are all "too busy" to get portraits done, we try to fit it in occasionally as our kids grow, but it often slips through the cracks.  Add doctor's appointments, chemo, exhaustion, and photos become a lower priority.  Some of the FGP families have never had portraits done.  It was on their "to do" list and then cancer took over their lives.  When a family receives their portraits and says that they have looked at them over and over in awe, that we have given them an unbelievable gift they will always cherish, it is an amazing and humbling feeling.  For me it's been something I can do when I'm struggling with that "what can I do to help" feeling and it's been an amazing experience that has changed me and enriched my life.



~Stephanie
If you are interested in volunteering your photography services, helping fund this program, or if you know a family who could benefit, please email us at photos@fairygodmotherproject.org for more information! 

A Volunteer's Perspective

Words from our volunteer, Mandy:

One of my greatest fears is of something happening to one of my boys. I am quite certain that watching my own child battle something as horrible as cancer, and not having any power to make it better, would knock me to my knees quicker than anything else I can think of. I don't claim to know what the parents of pediatric patients go through, but I would imagine that on my knees-unless it is to pray- would not be where that sweet child would need me during such a time in his life. I believe he would need every bit of what I had to give during every single day of that fight. I think that I would probably have less to  give than on others, but my child, and the rest of my family, would still need me just as much.

Those thoughts are what brought me to Fairy Godmother Project initially, and the desire to help and encourage the families during such a hard time in their lives is why I keep cooking for them.  My hope is that by making and delivering a meal, I can reduce some of the strain on the families we serve.  I hope that by allowing them not to worry about dinner even just one night a week, I can help make that day one where those precious parents have just a little bit more to give to each other and to their kids.  I may never meet any of the FGP families, but I hope that when the food shows up at their door they will feel encouraged and cared about, because they are.

Interested in reducing the strain on these families? Email info@fairygodmotherproject.org

What's Happening?

The last few days were busy ones behind the scenes at FGP. Here is what is going on in addition to the cleanings, meals and lawn care:

1. Date night at the amazing Foode  for one of the couples in our FGP community! The couple was able to get out and have a night on the town to reconnect. When asked how it was, the mom said, "Amazing. Thank you for everything. I'm definitely going to be a regular."
2. One of the mamas got  her hair done by our helpful and talented stylist, Alis who works at Bangz.
3. The amazing and generous, Diana Keller of Sage Letterpress spent the weekend working on business cards and is ready and eager to work on some marketing materials for us! 
4. Design is underway of our first ever e-newsletter thanks to Stephanie's oldest!
5. Content for the newsletter is being developed.
6.We are running a contest on FB and here to name our e-newsletter. Whoever comes up with the winning name will get a $10  restaurant.com gift card.  If you aren't on FB, feel free to post your idea here for consideration under comments.
7. Two fundraisers are on right now for FGP! One is a Thirty-One Fundraiser (you know those great bags with cool patterns) and a Nomades Charm Fundraiser(the charms designed for the military families)!
8. A very exciting fundraiser is planned for the month of February! We can't tell just yet what it is because we don't want to ruin the surprise, but if you are a reader, you will love it!
9. Our check for $4,000 made its way to the family from our fundraiser in December.
10. Parent support meetings are being scheduled in our area. Thanks to Amy of Amy's Cafe  for her offer of her restaurant. 
11. Laura, the woman who is heading up the Richmond chapter is representing FGP today at a meeting with Childhood Cancer Community Consortium. 


Thanks to everyone involved in making any and all of the above happen! 
Want to volunteer? Send an email to info@fairygodmotherproject.org
 


FGP from the Inside: Week 1

In an attempt to spread the word about FGP and pediatric cancer, it has been suggested that we write more on our blog. So here it goes.....

Andie's Perspective

My thoughts have been pulled to what has been accomplished in the last few months since FGP got going. I am so proud of all of it: the support from the community, the volunteers we have recruited and maintained but the thing that stands out most for me is how my life has been enriched by FGP. It was obvious to me in the beginning that it would feel good to help others and that I would be setting a positive example for my children about what it means to give back especially to those in crisis. But it is the things I didn't expect to get out of it; it is the relationships that have developed over the last few months, the things I have learned about myself and the things I have learned from others that are most pronounced. I always go back to when we were interviewed for the Free Lance Star article, she asked me what it was like to be the Fairy Godmother to all these children. And I realized that we aren't; we are the Fairy Godmothers to the parents so that they can be less stressed in a very emotional, stressful situation which helps the family as a whole.

The Moms

As FGP started, I took the role of lead volunteer or family liaison (still haven't picked what to call it) for our families.  That means  that I am the go between for the families. I send the moms weekly emails with when meals will arrive, when/if the lawn or house will be done, reminders about the available resources like hair cuts, nights out and so on. I also check on them whether via phone, text, visit or email just as a reminder that FGP is here and that we care.

As FGP grows, my husband helps me make lists of what I do and then check what I can delegate. One day he suggested I delegate one of my four families to someone else. I tried to consider it, but I couldn't. And then I tried explaining to him why it wasn't an option, but I couldn't put it into words because of the lump in my throat. These moms, who are my primary contacts, have become my friends.  I am sure there is some line I have crossed in some world where I am becoming "too involved" but I don't know how to do it any other way nor do I want to. I cherish the relationships I have established with these women. And how could I not? I have sat with one while she told one of her children over the phone that her sibling's cancer has spread, I have spent hours in the car with one mom learning about her pre-kid life, I've listened to plans for another baby and so much more. And through all of that and everything they are going through, each of them asks me about me, my kids and my life.

Not too long ago, one of our families decided that we should focus our efforts on another family that had a new diagnosis for fear FGP didn't have enough resources to do it all. The mom emailed me to say just that and I cried and then I composed myself and wrote them an email pretty much begging them to let us continue helping. And I don't use the term begging lightly (maybe I wasn't so composed). I explained that at this point they were stuck with me and therefore FGP because we are invested in them and committed to seeing them through this horrible thing called pediatric cancer. And we ARE very, very INVESTED.

If you are interested in getting involved in FGP, please email us at info@fairygodmotherproject.org for more information! You won't be disappointed.

2011 in Review



Last year when 2011 hit, Fairy Godmother Project was just a little idea inspired by an amazing little girl named Evy. Now on the first day of 2012, we are taking a look back with awe at how the idea grew!

What did FGP accomplish in 2011?
  • Provided cleaning and/or meals to 5 families in Fredericksburg area, 2 in NoVA
  • Sent care packages and gift cards to 2 families in Richmond area
  • Logged thousands of volunteer hours (still waiting on total- go here to log yours!)
  • Did 9 photo sessions
  • Recruited 65 volunteers for family services program and 14 for photography program
  • Held 4 volunteer trainings (just since August)
  • Was Featured on the Front Page of the paper!
  • Developed partnerships with local businesses including Foode, J.Brian's, Merry Maids (540 898 3636) and GrassRoots (Cathy Lyon 540-361-1572), Moms of Fredericksburg
  • Became a program of Journey 4 A Cure
  • Attended Stafford County Public Schools' Learn and Serve Community Fair
  • Developed a board to assist in decision making (will be introducing board members over next few weeks)
  • Raised thousands of dollars for a local family
  • Was the beneficiary of a holiday party that raised $1500 in gift cards for families
  • Started the planning for DC and Richmond chapters
  • Gave families 1200 in gift cards
  • Connected families for gift giving



2012 is here and we are filled with hope that this little idea will
continue to grow and make a difference in the lives of families undergoing pediatric cancer treatment. We hope that we can continue to take away some stress of the families we help through meals, cleaning and support. FGP is constantly growing and changing based on the needs of families and the resources we have.


We have no idea what this year will bring, but are hopeful that on January 1,2013, we will have the same sense of wonder, pride and awe at all FGP has done and accomplished.

Thanks for your support in 2011!
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