Giving Back to The Hospital That Gave A Family So Much

Guest Blog By: Deb Montgomery, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital Parent

My daughter, Neriah, has had many varied health issues over the course of her childhood, including severe asthma, allergies, gastrointenstinal issues, and more. We have been blessed to have her under the care of several of the doctors in the Pediatric Specialty Clinic at the University of Maryland Childnre’s Hospital (UMCH). During the past several years, we’ve been through a multitude of appointments, testing, and hospitalizations.

As you can imagine, this has been really hard, and especially heartbreaking to see all that our little girl had to endure. Good care from doctors and nurses helped, but it was hard to keep positive and distract our sweet girl from all of the pain and discomfort. In some of the toughest medical tests and hospitalizations, we were introduced to the Child Life program.

Through that, she was given some toys and crafts to keep her busy, and distract her a bit from what was going on. It was such a help to have someone else “on our side”, trying to make the whole hospital ordeal a more positive experience for our little girl! When she got home from different times in the hospital, she would show her sisters some crafts that she made, or little presents she got to keep. She never told stories about the hard stuff, but she focused on those fun, positive memories! We really appreciate the positive memories that she has of the hospital, through the Child Life program.

It’s because of that, that we would like to help more children in the hospital to go home with some positive memories! We know how much it means to get some help at some of the hardest times. Our little girl loves to read, and we are having a book drive to raise money to buy Usborne books and more for the Child Life program to give to kids at UMCH. Usborne books are really engaging and interactive, and would really help to bring some joy to a child in the hospital. Usborne will match your donation at 50%, so we’ll be able to get even more books to the children! Click through the link below to donate to the fundraiser, to take part in giving some wonderful books to children in the hospital at UMCH!
Click here to support Provide books to children in the hospital at UMCH

UM Children’s Hospital Patient Gives Back in a Big Way

Michelle Kaminaris, a kindergarten teacher at Hampstead Hill Academy in East Baltimore, has seen kids miss school for all kinds of reasons. Like most of us, she never expected her own child to miss school due to a serious illness. But when her daughter Eva (an eighth grader at Hampstead Hill Academy) started showing flu-like symptoms, a trip to the doctor confirmed that Eva would be missing school due to pneumonia.

From there, Eva had more tests and doctors found a tumor on her ovaries. The tumor was removed after an emergency surgery, but she still had to spend time recovering at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH). While she endured a slew of poking and prodding and scary medical diagnoses, it was the Child Life team and other skilled nurses at UMCH who made her hospital stay a positive experience.

Group Photo

Eva (fourth from left) and Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club pose with their donation to UMCH

“We had unbelievably phenomenal care. I never had to leave my daughter,” Michelle said. “One of the nurses even gave up his lunch hour to take Eva to play and walk around.”

Post-discharge and feeling better, Eva was determined to give back to the place that took such great care of her. She started looking online for ways to help and found UMCH’s toy wish list.

She sought help from her school’s Kiwanis Builders Club, and recruited some of her friends and classmates to help. The club, seven members strong, started planning fundraisers, bake sales, art supply and Band-Aid drives, and a paint night.

Shannon Joslin Builders Club

Shannon Joslin, Child Life Manager, describes the Child Life Program to the Hampstead Hill Academy Kiwanis Builders Club

The students stayed after school one day to stretch the canvases for the paint night by hand and helped cook food for the event. Thirty-five families came out after school to support the club and raise money for the cause.

The club went shopping for items on the UMCH wish list with the money from the fundraisers. They picked out high-demand items like DVDs, video games, building block sets and card games, all which they personally delivered to the hospital.

As Eva heads to high school, she wants to ensure that this is not a one-time donation. Even if she can’t start the club at her new high school, she plans to keep in touch and continue giving back to UMCH. Michelle’s youngest child, inspired by Eva’s involvement and by UMCH’s great care, plans continue the family tradition and join the Hampstead Hill Builders Club next year.

Many thanks to the Hampstead Hill Academy’s Kiwanis Builders Club! Your continued support of the Children’s Hospital ensures we have the resources available to make every patient’s stay comfortable and fun.

Learn more about the Child Life Program and meet the team.

Interested in giving to the Children’s Hospital? Here’s how you can help.