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When a child needs medical treatment away from their hometown, the emotional, physical and financial burden on a family can be overwhelming. These worries are all too familiar to Marcie Dumais, Executive Director of You Are Not Alone (YANA). She has witnessed a spectrum of emotions; from the joyous outcome of premature twins coming home safe and healthy from a stay in NICU, to the profound loss a father feels after his child passes, yet is still grateful to an organization that stood behind him throughout his son’s treatment.
Located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, YANA is a local non-profit society that assisted both of these families and countless others with the practicalities of travel expenses, lodging and funding when their children needed long-term medical care outside the Comox Valley community. No matter the circumstance, knowing there’s help with logistics can relieve some of the pressure on a family.
YANA’s impact is immeasurable, particularly in a rural area where critical care facilities are distant. Last year the organization helped 140 children and their families during a perilous point in their lives. That help can include direct financial support for families of children who need to be taken by helicopter or ambulance to a critical care center (about 75 per year), or arranging and covering the cost of apartments for them.
“Our organization has been around for over 30 years, so we’ve assisted with tens of thousands of trips and we’ve helped thousands of families over that time period,” Dumais said. “You feel so helpless in these situations, to be able to offer something tangible like funds or a place to stay makes sense and allows families to be where they need to be.”
Most funding for YANA is raised right in their community. As a recipient of a 4imprint® one by one® grant, YANA was able to order custom logo backpacks and custom reflective stickers to hand out to attendees of their annual family-friendly biking event, Simon Cycle’s YANA Ride. The grant helps YANA continue its important mission. “Simply put, it’s about collectively reaching out to local families to pull them up when they’re in a situation where they need help,” Dumais explained.