Baltimore, Md. At a time when the fear of the unknown is gripping the nation, a steady stream of loving support is flowing through the city of Baltimore, and making its way to children and families staying at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins. Families who were former guests, along with faithful volunteers and complete strangers, have joined local businesses and a national corporation to come to the aid of this quiet residential building located just steps from the front door of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins is a non-profit residential housing facility that accommodates many of the sickest children being treated at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Families travel to the Children’s House from throughout the United States and the world, seeking treatments that are often unavailable elsewhere. The Children’s House offers the many oncology, cardiology, transplant and immune suppressed pediatric patients, a home like environment where they are encouraged to relax during what is often one of the most stressful experiences a family will ever face. When the slow burning panic of the coronavirus pandemic approached the United States several weeks ago, a number of stringent policies were put into place to protect the families who reside there. A vibrant facility that overflowed with volunteers, massage therapists and therapy dogs each day, the Children’s House was suddenly placed on a protective lockdown that barred all volunteers and outside visitors. The often joyful nightly dinners and leisurely morning breakfasts that were prepared by volunteer groups suddenly stopped. Even the mailman is now met at the front door and not allowed to enter the building.
Preparing the Children’s House to transition to the new mandates of human distancing has required a night and day effort by Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation staff. As word spread of the urgent need to supply the Children’s House for a lengthy isolation, an outpouring of volunteer support quickly reinforced the effort. The Home Depot Corporation, a long time charitable partner of Believe In Tomorrow, has called each week to ask what is needed to protect the families and prepare the facility for the inevitable surge of COVID-19. They delivered cleaning products and disinfectants, a large freezer and a number of refrigerators, and amazingly even found and delivered a supply of N-95 masks for Children’s House families when they were unavailable virtually everywhere in the country. Former Believe In Tomorrow families have been donating items through an Amazon wish list, as have volunteers and community groups. A number of incredible individuals have been sponsoring dinners from local restaurants that are being delivered to the house. But much more is still needed to meet the demands of the next several months.
There is a spirit of resiliency and compassion in Baltimore that is rising above the steady stream of bad news the city has endured for years. Sometimes the human spirit shines brightest during the darkest of days. This pandemic has strained every resource in the country, and stressed every fiber of our daily lives. But in the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House a calm peacefulness exists, thanks to the generosity that is alive and well in the diverse richness of the American character. Children are playing, parents are quietly waiting, and the early flowers of Spring are emerging in the small outdoor courtyard. There are signs of hope within the flood of chaos and confusion that have washed over us so suddenly. Hope that is offered by an outstretched hand is powerful medicine for the families who live at the Children’s House, and for the heart and soul of communities everywhere. The largest Children’s House fund raiser of the year, the annual Port To Fort 6k which runs through historic Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, has been cancelled as an in-person event, and will be turned into the Don’t Stop Believein Virtual Race this year. It is scheduled for April the 19th and runners and walkers are encouraged to participate. Everyone is guaranteed a t-shirt and the good feeling of making a positive difference in this world we live in. Click here to register for the Virtual Port To Fort 6K.