My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Kids Konnected, Laguna Hills, CA, USA
I learned about KK just two weeks after my son Rick, 36, lost his 5-yr battle with cancer. Rick was a single dad of my only grandchild, who was 7 when he was diagnosed and not quite 12 when he died. Kendra had gone thru cancer with him every step of the way, accompanying him to chemo, cheering him on, and in the end, helping me and the hospice staff care for him as he died in my home. Kendra was profoundly affected by his death, which came during her early adolescence. We eagerly attended our first meeting, and that very day Kendra announced she wanted to be a youth leader when she reached high school age. I knew we had found a way to navigate our tremendous sorrow, and adapt to our " new normal."
For years we attended, if at all possible, the support groups twice a month and eventually Kendra did become a youth leader and helped facilitate a satellite group near CHOC in Orange. She loved being a camp counselor and applying her experiences to helping the younger kids walking the same path. She truly did learn to turn her scars into stars, while she could have easily made all the wrong decisions.
Raising a young girl (with "issues", mom having left when she was 2) was a maze I wandered through, and honestly don't know how I would have done it without the wisdom, the love, and the support of Lynnette Wilhardt, Sarah Lorton, and so many others over the years. I constantly walked a tightrope, trying to determine (when we hit those really big bumps) just how much was grief, and how much was just "icky teenager." Parents in my position may tend to overcompensate and let the little darling "get away with" whatever. The guidance I got from the counselors was priceless. (And free!)
I was first concerned that it would be awkward, mixing the children of newly-diagnosed or patients in remission, and having them share stories with children who had lost a parent. I quickly saw that IT DIDN'T MATTER, because with the tremendous sensitivity and skill of the staff, the children just GOT IT. "It" being, " we don't know what will happen to dad/mom, he/she may get well, may get sick again, may get well again, or may even die ... but whatever comes, I WILL BE OK." While Kendra attended her support groups through the years, I soaked up the compassion, the advice, and the encouragement of the parents' group, lead by Ken Rhea. I cannot say enough about this fabulous organization. I continue to spread the word to those who have a child affected by the cancer of a parent. I've seen families transformed by their association with Kids Konnected. This review cannot truly express my appreciation and admiration for all we have received from this organization. Endless thanks,
Jeri Livingstone - Garden Grove, CA (714) 5391429
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
not change a thing.
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