By Brent Thompson |Staff Writer|
Last Thursday students in Astrid Sheil’s (Ph.D.) Public Relations Class (Comm 442) sold
wristbands outside the library and SMSU to raise money for the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation’s (ASRL) “Stand Up for Fathers” campaign, which helps provide single fathers with severely sick children the opportunity to be by the side of their child instead of being forced to choose between work, and staying with their child.
ASRL gives single fathers and mothers financial assistance to pay for bills such as rent, electricity, groceries, transportation, babysitters and many other necessities.
The students in the class have spent the quarter providing useful PR work to help heighten awareness for the foundation and its cause.
“Last year we raised $6,000,” said student Emily Greningren, “This year our goal is to raise $10,000 and add 1,000 e-mails to the foundation’s database so that they can reach out to more people and keep them informed of recent events and fundraisers.”
For families whose children are stricken with a catastrophic illness there are many costs that come with the battle that lies ahead of them. The costs include sleepless nights filled with worry and anxiety.
The costs include the fear of losing a child and watching the suffering that comes along with the battle of treating the disease or ailment.
And sadly, for some, the ultimate cost is losing a beloved child. For all families who are put in such a situation the last thing they want to have to agonize about is how they will pay rent or buy groceries.
Yet, for many families the economical burden can become completely overwhelming, especially in cases involving single parents.
These families are faced with harsh financial realities and put into situations ranging from foreclosures of their homes, evictions, utilities being disconnected, or repossession of the family car.
“The foundation provides more relief to single mothers, since most single families only consist of a mother,” explained student Derek Albertsen.
“ But the single fathers are out there, and we feel they are an understated demographic”
ASRL’s “Stand up for Fathers” campaign will run for the entire month of June to coincide with Fathers day. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are 1.8 million single parent father, 9 percent are raising children under the age of 18.
The wristbands, which sold for $2, are embroidered with three simple words; strength, honor, love.
“We as a class picked these words because we felt these where the qualities that single fathers exhibit while they are struggling to care for a sick child and at the same time supporting their family.” (I didn’t write down the name of the guy, but he’s the old guy who wear the Vietnam War hat. He was at the SMSU at around 1:30 p.m.)
The mission of ASRL is “when compassion can’t wait and single parent families are in despair, the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation helps with urgent expenses to allow these caregivers to stay at their child’s beside during catastrophic illness.”
The foundation was founded by Valerie Sobel who is all too familiar with the stress and heartache of having a child diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Her teenage son, Andre, died from a malignant brain tumor in 1995. One year later her grief-stricken husband, Erwin, took his own life.
Reflecting upon the loss of her child she realized that she was fortunate to have the financial means to care for her son and her family, while also being able to be by his side for the entire time during his illness.
Through her ordeal she was saddened to see too many single parents not given the same opportunity she had.
Sobel started ASRL to help respond to the financial needs of single parents to allow them to remain by the side of their child and comfort them .
Starting in California, the foundation has expanded nationally in 24 states, and is affiliated with 12 pediatric hospitals.
In ten years it has provided $4 million in assistance to 11,300 families in need of their help. 57% of the funds raised goes to help families stop foreclosures and evictions from their homes.
Besides helping families with their housing situations, the foundation also provides help with various things such as airplane tickets for grandparents to come and help their family, wigs for teenagers receiving chemotherapy treatment, paying for sibling activities such as ballet or sports, alternative therapy or burial costs.
Within 24 hours of being asked to help by social workers at children’s hospitals affiliated with the ASRL, families are given the financial assistance that they desperately need.
“It’s a noble cause and we’re proud to be apart of it,” expressed student Rebekah Dailey.
Besides selling wristbands on Thursdays, the Comm 442 class will also be putting on a charity auction at a date to be announced later.
And on June 2 they will be putting on a fundraiser at Logan’s Roadhouse Roundup from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information on both events contact Dr. Sheil at [email protected]
For more information on the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation go to www.andreriveroflife.org or call Anne Swire at (909) 626-0222 or (240) 994-4183.