will answer parents' prayers
Scores of underprivileged families from as far away as Boone and Lumberton make the pilgrimage to UNC Hospitals every year in search of specialized medical care for their children. Some sacrifice ample food, clothing and a place to sleep - often for days on end - to ensure their child is getting treatment.
A recent gift to the Medical Foundation of North Carolina will alleviate some of these hardships. The Christiane Children's Fund, established with a $25,000 stock gift from Maja Dubois of Old Greenwich, Conn., will provide families with such basic needs as meals, parking fees, gasoline and medical equipment.
Dubois made the gift primarily to help families that have nowhere else to turn, but she also wanted to thank UNC Hospitals for reaching out to her husband when he was young.
In the 1950s, Dubois' husband was an orphan at the Barium Springs Home for Boys in the foothills of North Carolina. At the age of 10, he came down with a severe inner ear problem, which required immediate attention. The orphanage had no means to pay for his medical care, so UNC Hospitals teamed up with a local charitable foundation to cover all of his treatment.
"With this gift we wanted to repay the good that UNC and the community did for my husband and, at the same time, help other children in need," Dubois said.
"We recently visited several hospitals in North Carolina and saw families sleeping on couches with clearly not enough to eat," she said. "When people don't know how they're going to get basic necessities, the kindness of strangers can help in a tremendously meaningful way."
UNC Hospitals has a long history of providing medical care for underprivileged children from all over the state, but resources can run thin.
"We do see families that don't have the means to eat or stay overnight or cases where the children don't have clothing-some pretty heartbreaking circumstances," said Roberta Williams, chair of the Department of Pediatrics. "We have great support from social services, but sometimes a case will fall between the cracks. The fund is going to do wonderful things for sick children in need and their families."