We are lucky, in America, to have some of the finest institutions in their field, in the world. Among our many fine institutions are the world-class Children's Hospitals that exist in major cities. But, for all the great work they do, they cannot do everything.
One amazing charity is helping Children's Hospitals fill the gaps, while also providing direct support to parents. The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation enables single parents of children with life-threatening illnesses to care for their children fulltime by relieving financial burdens when other resources are exhausted or unavailable.
Statistics shows that roughly eight in ten couples separate or divorce once it is determined that their child suffers a life-threatening or catastrophic chronic illness. Almost always, mothers become the single care-givers. Think about that. For every 100 children with a catastrophic illness, about 78 mothers will get divorced and care for that child alone.
This puts single mothers in a horrific, nightmarish predicament. If they choose not to work, so they can care for their dying child, they will simply not have enough income to pay even the simplest of bills. If they do work, they face the prospect of not being there for their son or daughter in their most trying times. Many won't be there if and when their child succumbs to their disease.
The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation was formed by an extraordinary woman, Valerie Sobel, who knows the pain parents with sick children endure. Her son, Andre, for whom the charity is named, died from a brain tumor. Within a year, her husband took his own life.
While Valerie could have shrunk from the world, and no one would have blamed her, she committed herself to using her experience as motivation to help others, staring the Foundation.
Here's a typical case they've handled. A 17-year-old diagnosed 2 years ago with leukemia. The mom is single with one other child, and the father is not paying child support. The child's treatment is complicated necessitating experimental treatments. The mother was also recently diagnosed with cancer and is unable to work. The family is experiencing great emotional and financial stress. To date, the Foundation has given this woman about $3000 to help with her housing, utilities, car insurance, groceries, and household expenses. And they will continue to be there, for her.
Right now, the foundation is providing endowments to many of the Children's Hospitals, which those hospitals match. These funds are used to provide payments for rent, mortgages, utilities, car and health insurance and other urgent financial needs that can so stress a single parent family when the child is sick. In this way, the River of Life Foundation helps undo the need for many single parents to choose between work and their severely ill child.
This work is replicated around the country, by the foundation. Through partnership with other hospitals, and through direct assistance to single parents, Valerie Sobel has touched the lives of thousands of single parents who thought hope was lost. In most cases, aid is given within 24 hours - an extraordinary feat, which makes this such a special charity.
These sorts of amazing ventures take two things - a committed, visionary, and selfless leader, and the financial help from as many of us as possible. The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation most certainly has the former. The latter, though, is up to all of us.
For more information, and to donate to the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, visit www.AndreRiverofLife.org