The Network of Care provides in-hospital meals to families of children in hospitals, who are in crisis when their child is suddenly hospitalized. These families do not have the time, energy, or presence of mind to look after their own needs, so our Network provides for them and allows them to devote more attention to their ailing child to help in their child’s recovery.
- Name of Company: The Network of Care
- Contact: Janet Frazier
- Phone: (925) 584-4086
- email: www.thenetworkofcare.org/contact/
- Website: www.thenetworkofcare.org/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thenetworkofcare
How The Network of Care was formed:
On December 16, 2000, my life was changed forever. My daughters, Stephanie (20) and Lindsey (17) were in a tragic car accident. Stephanie did not survive and Lindsey was in critical condition. Sitting for hours in the ICU with Lindsey, I nearly fainted – not having eaten in over 24 hours. A kind nurse shared her sandwich with me and it was because of this kindness that The Network of Care was founded. To turn a tragedy into an opportunity to help others. -– Janet Frazier
How many hospitals do you serve and number of meals provided?
The Network of Care has prepared and delivered a bagged meal to over 340,000 families of children, in over 50 hospitals in California and Colorado since we began in 2004. These hospitals include numerous Children’s Hospitals, Community Hospitals and Family Houses, serving families in pediatric units, neonatal intensive care nurseries, pediatric oncology, intensive care units and trauma centers.
On an annual basis, we feed approximately 25,000 families of children in hospitals. The meal bags are free of charge to the hospitals and also the families. Nurses and social workers hand the meal bags out to the families who are keeping vigil over their sick child.
We do this without paid staff or overhead expenses. We are all volunteers; therefore, all proceeds go into the program to feed these families.
For those that have never experienced a child in the hospital, why is it that adults never seem to eat and only later realize its been so many hours since a last meal?
When faced with a medical crisis of your child, a parent never thinks of themself. Hospitals have centralized their services. You could take your child to the ER just to find out your child has to be hospitalized right away. If you’re lucky, there is a bed available at your local hospital. If none is available, you’re sent (sometimes via ambulance) to another hospital which could be up to 1½ hours away from home. Your life unravels quickly. Your support system is back at home – your family, school, church and work friends. Your child is in a state of panic and needs a parent by their bedside. You realize you have to make arrangements for someone responsible to step in and care for other children at home and make arrangements to take time off work (which is troublesome as you need to pay your bills). You need your job for medical coverage. Many are not prepared for the worry and financial burden of having a child in the hospital, and don’t have the money to purchase food, let alone gas for other family members to get to the hospital to help. This is all consuming to a parent. Basic needs, like food is the last thing on your mind.
Testimonial from a mom: “I wanted to write to say thank you. I had to bring our 1-year-old son to the ER (Kaiser Redwood City) in the middle of the night because he was struggling to breathe. After several hours, he was admitted, and we spent the night in Pediatrics. My husband was at home with our daughter, so I was left by myself with a frightened son that was hooked up to all kinds of machines as well as an IV. It was near impossible just to get to the bathroom.”
Not only do you have volunteers of all ages and abilities but explain the partnership with local high school special needs.
We are so proud of this special partnership with Special Education! Young Adults with Special Needs at three East Contra Costa County high schools volunteer all year long (including summer school) as part of their Community Based Instruction Program. Their work with The Network of Care gives them valuable vocational skills. These skills will help them transition to adult life, prepare them with skills to hold and maintain jobs and to live independently. As a volunteer organization, this is a WIN-WIN for the students and for the families of children in hospitals.
The students learn specific tasks such as calculating food and supplies needed, budgeting, folding flyers, sorting food, monitoring expiration dates, inserting food items into the bags in a certain order, quality assurance, taking inventory of food, placing the bags into shipping boxes and preparing them for shipping. They also deliver them to the UPS shipping center. The students have increased their skill levels by learning real jobs and tasks done by people in real employment situations. This helps with fine and gross motor skills processes, and with building self-esteem toward becoming confident in their worth to an employer.
I know a lot is focused on the feeding families in hospitals, but what other programs do you offer?
We have three other programs:
- Bear Jamboree Program – You can show how much you care with the Gift of a Bear! People can donate brand new teddy bears or other stuffed animals for children in hospitals. This is a great way for a group of people and/or children (i.e., boy/girl scouts, school groups, church groups, work groups, etc.) to collect and donate brand new teddy bears/stuffed animals which are distributed to hospitals in the community all year long.
- Cozy Comforts Program – Blankets are made with loving hands by people in our community to provide warmth, security and comfort to warm the hearts of seriously ill babies and children in the hospital. If you enjoy crocheting, knitting or sewing handmade blankets, consider donating them to this cause.
- Crafts from the Heart Program – The Network of Care provides craft kits to children in hospitals, so they can focus on creative activities with their siblings and family who visit them.
You can learn more at: https://thenetworkofcare.org/volunteer/
What challenges and policy changes have impacted The Network of Care and has there been any impact to how you can help serve families with children in the hospital?
In March/April 2020, when we all sheltered in place due to COVID, the hospitals stopped all food deliveries. A few months later they realized there was a demand for food for the parent staying with their hospitalized children. At that time, only one parent could stay with the child and once you were there for the day, you couldn’t leave as there weren’t in-and-out privileges for families during COVID. Since our volunteers were sheltering in place, my 92-year-old dad and I assembled meal bags at home and distributed them to hospitals for several months.
We don’t do food drives as we must track and monitor expiration dates of food going into hospitals. At times, supply issues can be challenging if they’re out of Mac and Cheese as an example, however it’s normally a very temporary situation.
Any exciting news for 2023 from The Network of Care?
Yes! We currently distribute food on a weekly basis to Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, Rady Children’s in San Diego and will be expanding to other hospitals in the Southern California area.
You have a crab feed coming up. Tell us about the event. If folks cannot attend, how can they help the organization.
Our 17th Annual Crab Feed is coming up on Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Pittsburg. It is always a great evening of fun with family and friends – plus raffle prizes, silent auction, dessert auction….and all the crab you can eat! Doors open at 5:30pm with dinner at 7:00pm. This is our major fundraiser and the proceeds from this single event helps thousands of families. Get your tickets now: CLICK HERE
If people are unable to attend the crab feed, they can make a difference in the lives of others with donations. The Network of Care relies completely on donations from the community and a caring network of volunteers. Our work is made possible through your continuous and generous support. CLICK HERE to make a donation and make a difference in the lives of others.