During that decade, the Hearts of Harvest Foundation has raised $341,078, including $235,000 donated locally, for families of children with heart defects.
The foundation was launched in 2003 by three local women who had experienced firsthand not only the stresses, but also the ancillary, non-medical costs associated with responding to the needs of a child with a heart defect.
Becky Brown, one of the founders, said her family learned what others go through when her son, Erickson, experienced heart problems as a newborn and was treated at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. He was treated without surgery and now, 17 years old, is doing well, she said.
“We knew from our own experiences what these families are going through, and we decided we wanted to help them any way we can,” said Brown, current executive director of the foundation.
She said the foundation provides money for a myriad of costs, including purchasing gasoline for regular trips to out-of-town hospitals, parking and periodic stays in motels near hospitals.
Contributions are also made for children’s heart research and for Camp Taylor, a summer camp for children with heart defects.
Pam McCain, another founder of Hearts of Harvest, said her daughter, Samantha, was born with only half of her heart functioning.
Following two major operations at California Children’s Hospital in Oakland, her daughter, now 15, is leading a normal life.
Brown, McCain, along with the third founder, Bonnie Smith, provide the core of the Hearts of Harvest Foundation’s board. McCain serves as board chair.
Brown said from their experiences, the women “decided we wanted to give back” and organized the nonprofit.
“We are all volunteers — there are no paid employees, and we do everything out of an office at my home,” Brown said. “Those who receive funds give us a detailed accounting.”
Parents of children with heart defects who need assistance, almost all from San Joaquin County, reach the foundation through the Healthy Connections Resource Center of Sutter of Tracy Community Hospital and the social service staffs at Lucile Packard and California children’s hospitals. There is also contact through the foundation’s web site, www.heartsofharvest.org.
In addition to providing funds, Brown and McCain offer advice and support over the phone and Internet.
The Sept. 22 fundraising event, for which tickets are still available, features wine from a variety of wineries, dinner and an auction. It is the major source of income, but other sources are now being sought.
For information: Becki Brown or Pam McCain, 613-2693.