Like so many charities, I founded Kraftlove because I have a heart for children in difficult situations, a passion for serving and a dream to combine the two to make a difference in a powerful way. Kraftlove’s mission is to use art to promote a healing environment in the hospital for children struggling with illness. By providing interactive art projects that inspire creativity and encourage self-expression, we hope to transform the experience in the hospital from one of illness to normalcy, joy and healing. Our plan is to create age and impairment-appropriate art projects, package the necessary materials for that art project in boxes, and donate those boxes to children’s hospitals in the National Capital Area for children impacted by illness. Then building on what we learn we will expand our reach to hospitals, shelters and other organizations that are focused on helping children who are facing challenging circumstances in their lives all across the country and beyond.
My professional career as a behavior analyst has long involved helping children in difficult circumstances, having worked with children with autism for over 15 years. That work has been very influential in my decision to create Kraftlove. Children with autism work very hard to acquire virtually every skill that most children have and we often take for granted – the ability to follow basic instructions, to stay on task, to communicate, to socially engage with peers. I have seen how these children have been forced to absorb the life lessons of perseverance, patience, and resolve because of all they must overcome to acquire these skills.
Children impacted by illness have to endure many of the same life lessons. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2009. Even as an adult, during this difficult journey, I needed to dig deep inside and find the strength, hope and courage to keep jumping through those hoops, even when I was overcome with pessimism. I came away from that experience with awe and admiration for the tenacity that children with cancer and other serious illnesses must find within themselves to deal with the emotional and physical challenges they face.
The impact of these two experiences, for me, resulted in Kraftlove. I knew initially that I wanted to create a charity to help children but didn’t know quite what to do or where to start. One day, I watched as my own children were immersed in an art project and having a great time. They were so focused on every detail of the art project that nothing else in the world seemed to matter. Suddenly I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to give this gift of joy in the form of an art box to sick children in the hospital.” I had found where to begin.
I have always enjoyed art myself. I was never a great artist but art has helped me find peace of mind during tumultuous times in my own life. They say that meditation helps one to be present and mindful. I think you can say the same for art. When I engage with art, I am better able to embrace each moment with clear and focused awareness. Art allows me to be so focused on what I am doing that I temporarily get to escape fleeting, negative thoughts that race through my mind during difficult times in my life. I started gardening a lot after I was diagnosed with cancer. I see gardening as a form of art because it allows me to be creative and express myself. Every spring, I look at my yard and think of it as a blank canvas and am eager to create a beautiful landscape that I can constantly change throughout the season.
I hope that Kraftlove will reach as many children as possible. In turn, I want children to send us pictures of their artwork so that we can display them on our Kraftlove boxes. I want children in the hospital, or otherwise impacted by illness, to feel that even though they are on a difficult journey that they are not alone. That people they don’t even know are thinking about them and sending them love in the form of art. I have high hopes and ambitions for Kraftlove and I am excited to work with our gifted team to amass an abundance of support for this cause because I believe it’s a good one.
As I work toward launching Kraftlove, I am extremely blessed to have the love and support of my family, friends and a group of phenomenal women on my board of directors. When the idea of Kraftlove was born, I immediately thought of these women to walk on this journey with me- Lisa Nelson, Brigette Polmar and Melanie Smith. These are three of the most amazing women I have ever met. You can read more about our board members here.
I hope that everyone reading this will continue to follow us on this journey as we introduce Kraftlove to the world. Its success depends on your belief in our cause. Walk with us and experience the joy as we share a little love in every box.