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Jane Caswell

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1 reviews

Review for The Heart Connection, Des Moines, IA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The smiles on children's faces while at camp, the stories they relate after the camp experience with gleaming eyes and happy faces, and the voices of support for each other that occur with parents at the family camps.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Love to be able to hire the additonal staff to support new programs and serve the needs of those "kids" who graduate to being an adult by society standards, but are still very affected by their cancer diagnosis.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Everything!!! Mostly the smiles on the kids faces!!!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Phenomenal. Everyone is there for the kids and families.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Definitely expand the Longterm Surviviors' Program; reach out more into the local communities and provide more support groups for the kids, parents, and sibs; and have more family camps.

Ways to make it better...

My experience with this oragnizaiton has always been wonderful and so supportive of all our children and their families that are dealing with cancer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Expanding more across the state and looking at the issues of long-term survivors and providing support and help for that population that outgrows camp. This will require new programs and new funding.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Volunteer & As noted above, I have served as a camp nurse, the nurse educator who hands out the teatment books and educates families about the Heart Connection, and have been a donor.