When a child’s health is in peril, the only thing a family should be focused on is supporting them on the road to recovery. But for many families out there, the cost of medical care becomes an additional burden. This is where Fred’s Footsteps comes in.
“We provide a bridge of financial support for working families in the greater Philadelphia region who find themselves in crisis due to the costs associated with caring for a seriously ill, injured, or disabled child,” says Christine DiBona Lobley, executive director of Fred’s Footsteps. “For some families, we provide mortgage, utility or grocery assistance while they are on leave or out from work. For others, we help with a home modification or piece of equipment that they simply can’t afford, but need desperately.”
The organization was founded in 2005, after Lobley’s father, G. Fred DiBona, Jr. passed away from kidney cancer.
“We knew he would be remembered in Philadelphia as a civic and business leader, but what comforted us most after his death were the stories about his compassion and generosity. When someone was struggling, the first thing he wanted to do was find a way to help,” she says. “The most important thing we remember about him was the thing we knew we could keep alive: his passion for helping those in need at a critical point in their life.”
While many people think of Fred’s Footsteps as a children’s charity, Lobley says their mission is more about supporting the parents.
“They’ve worked hard their entire lives to support their families, but then become faced with insurmountable challenges due to a child’s illness or traumatic injury,” she says. “Fred’s Footsteps allows families to maintain their finances with dignity and pride. With some of the financial burden alleviated, they can focus on their child’s illness and remain superheroes in the eyes of their children.”
In an effort to donate most of their money to families in need, Fred’s Footsteps operates with a lean core staff and relies heavily on support from volunteers.
“We have opportunities for volunteers to help with tasks in our Ardmore office, or to help plan and execute one of our many fundraising events throughout the year,” Lobley says. “We also have several one-off opportunities that pop up throughout the year, like helping us get out our massive annual appeal or helping with community events or social media campaigns to spread the word about Fred’s Footsteps.”
If you’re interested in volunteering, you can e-mail [email protected] to get started.
While there are opportunities during regular office hours, Lobley notes that volunteers are especially needed on the weekends.
“The weekend work is often when we need the most help, and it’s hardest to find folks who are available given busy schedules,” she says.
For more information on Fred’s Footsteps, visit: fredsfootsteps.org.