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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Heart Connection

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Youth Development

Mission: We enhance the quality of life for families connected through childhood cancer, and create opportunities to learn, play, and share.

Geographic areas served: Iowa and surrounding states

Programs: To provide summer camps and one day special activities for children with cancer and their families. Programs in this area include family camps, oncology camp, sibling camp, mid-year mini camp, and family events.

to provide support services and information for children with cancer and their families. Programs in this area include club hope, the survivorship connection, lending library, online support program, and adopt a family.

to provide hospital based programs which provide support for children being treated for cancer. Programs included in this area are arts and crafts, end-of-treatment party, beads for bravery, poke box, and treatment binders.

Community Stories

54 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is an amazing organization that is filled with love and support. This organization makes a difference in the lives of the people that it touches. Through the many events that I've volunteered at for The Heart Connection, I can see how hard the staff, volunteers and supporters work for this organzation.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The weeks I have spent volunteering at Camp Heart Connection have been amazing! To see Oncology Campers who have been so sick during the year thriving outdoors and to see Sibling Campers who are often in the shadows during the year get attention showered on them makes my year. Camp Heart Connection changes lives of both the kids and the staff.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to the Heart Connection when my 3 yr. old son, Derek, was diagnosed with brain cancer November 2007. The staff provided a treatment book to help us keep track of all of the procedures, appointments, doctors, and medicines he would need for the next 16 months. Later the Heart Connection further help our family by allowing our daughter 6 yr old Jenna to go to camp with other siblings with the same experiences as her. She realized she was not alone and it allowed her to escape from the realities of cancer and enjoy being a child. She is anxiously awaiting camp this year and has already said she wants to be a counselor when the time comes. In addition, the Heart Connection has helped us with the creation of ClupHOPE, an organization fo parents caring for children in any stage of diagnosis, treatment, recovery, or rememberance. Families can meet and discuss the struggles they are facing with caring individuals who understand the problems, The warmth and caring offered by the Heart Connection is unsurpassed. Heart Connection events are a highlight on the calendar and always something to look forward to in the month. It is a respite from the stress and worries that treatment brings. It is an environment of trust, respect, fun, and love.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with The Heart Connection for over a year now and am very impressed with how they operate. Their cause is noble and their effect can be seen directly impacting the children and families that they serve. This is a very "hands on" organization and is well known in the community for the work that they do. I always feel that my time is appreciated and necessary to support their cause. Knowing that something I did helped make a sick child smile is just an amazing feeling.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is such an amazing organization! They offer so much support for the families and all the activities and programs are top notch!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our entire family has been involved with The Heart Connection Children's Cancer Programs since it's beginning. We have had campers at both the oncology and sibling camps. Our campers have served as staff and counselors. Our extended family has volunteered for 10 years at oncology camp and it is absolutely, the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. Camp and events provide so much to so many, fulfilling the NEEDS of whatever the camper/family is coping with. Every family member is effectived by this horrible disease and THCCCP addresses those issues. Camp staff is amazing and the campers are everyone's top priority. We have volunteered at events outside of camp, done fund-raising in our hometown and volunteered in the office. ALL have been wonderful experiences that make you feel good about helping these families.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of working with the Heart Connection since it's inception many years ago. My original role was as a staff nurse for our onoclogy camp. To watch a child with cancer go swimming, horse-back riding, climbing "the wall", dancing with a new best friend or love is just amazing!! For many of them, it's the first venture back to "normal" life. Later I have become both a financial supporter, and more importantly an advocate for making sure that all of our families know about the wonderful programs that The Heart Connection provides for them. We receive a wonderful treatment notebook that we simply fill in with the appropriate pages for each child's care plan that I hand out to families at the time of diagnosis. Our parents love having everything in one organized space. Some of our kids actually look forward to painful procedures because they get a new bead for their necklace through the Beads for Bravery program that the Heart Connection funds and supports. I've had the pleasure of attending several family camps as a leader for parental group sessions wherein not only the child with cancer, but the entire family get to experience the camp expericence and weekend of fun. The siblings of our children with cancer look forward to attending camp year after year. They are made to feel very special for a whole week and the focus of attention is on the sib rather than the ill child. New programs looking at support groups for the parents and sibs in the commumity, looking at issues of long-term survivorship, and just providing special experiences for our children with cancer are in the beginning phase. The most wonderful thing about the Heart Connection is that they provide all these services to our families at NO COST. Many of them are very financially strapped to make ends meet with all the extra expenses of bills not paid by insurance, extra travel and child care expenses, loss of income from one of the parents needing to quit working to care for the ill child, etc.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started with The Heart Connection first as a Sibling Camper more than 20 years ago. What a wonderful experience it was to spend time with other kids that understood what it was like to go through the experience. The Heart Connection provides that support to the entire family and that is what makes them such a great organziation.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an amazing program I have had the pleasure of being involved with for over 20 years. As a sibling, I found a community who understood what my family was going through and other children who knew what it was like to be lost amidst the chaos of cancer treatment. Little did I know that 20 years later, many of my fellow campers would still be close and dear friends. That is the wonderful part of the Heart Connection; it is not only an organization that helps during the crisis phases of cancer. It is a community that remains in contact and will see you through not only treatment, remission, treatment, or (sadly) loss - but also graduations, marriages, children and more.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last year was my first year volunteering at Heart Connection camp. The experience was unbelievable: a whole week of sharing stories, meeting friends, and limitless fun. Camp truly gives children and families affected by cancer the opportunity to step outside the confines of illness for a while and just live.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Heart Connection is a great support system for the children and familes that are dealing with such a terrible sickness. They look past the child that is sick and help them to get on with life and make the little moments and accomplishments seems huge. It's the little day in and day out things they do for the familes that let's them know they are not alone in this fight. They have people who are pulling for them all the way.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer for the past couple of months for The Heart Connection. Through my experience I have truly seen the mission of The Heart Connection, "to enhance the lives of children and their families that are affected by cancer by providing education, family support and recreation," come to life. Words cannot express how much this organization does for the families, children and communities at large that it is associated with. I'm proud to help an organization that has such a noble cause.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a volunteer at Oncology Camp and at Blank Hospital Oncology/Hematology Clinic. This organization is filled with angels helping and supporting families of children with cancer. They sponsor camps for siblings, patients, and families to get some time away from their cancer fight to be kids and have fun. They work tirelessly and selflessly to raise funds to support families and children in any way they can. I am inspired to help and do more by all of the angels involved in this organization. They are only limited by funding. They establish close relationships with families and help them keep going in a tough battle!! Truly amazing!!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have recently retired and have chosen The Heart Connection as an organization with great volunteer opportunities. Whether selling t-shirts at the Iowa State Fair, wrapping gifts at the mall, baking cookies for a Fun Run or just stuffing envelopes in the local office you are surrounded by wonderful people who love what they are doing and working toward a great cause.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I was introduced to the Heart Connection in 1996 as a camper I feel that I had gained a family for life. They have been there for me through my whole cancer journey from my second diagnosis and have started programming to help me as an adult survivor of cancer. I have had the ability to be a recipient of their programs and be a program leader as a volunteer to help others. I have gained so much from being a counselor for the Heart Connection and it is an honor to serve the children who are fighting cancer now. I can serve as an example to them they can grow up to fulfill their dreams and become something great!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an excellent organization that provides needed (and fun!) services to families in and around Iowa. The organization strives to provide emotional support in a fun, camp atmostphere!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This Camp ROCKS! All the volunteers put in so much time and patience with the kids so that they can have a great time at camp. It lets kids be kids, interact with staff, and build great friendships that will last a lifetime.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization helps so many fantastic kids and their families. Heart Connection touches lives in such a special way, letting families know that they are not alone in their cancer fight. Kids with Heart Connection involvement benefit so greatly and have such pure and joyous memories that last a lifetime.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is one of the most amazing organizations I know of. To see the faces of children and siblings touched by childhood cancer by the programs they have available is absolutely unbelievable! I've volunteered for this nonprofit for the last 5 years and have loved every minute of it, and they have improved their outreach to suit the needs of the families touched by cancer, as they need it.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a camp counselor for The Heart Connection Camp. It's an amazing camp that lets kids be kids again and forget about the worries of their everyday lives that have been affected by cancer.