Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Magical Evening

I've been volunteering for a nonprofit called "Children's Lightouse of Minnesota" for nearly two years. This is something I've done in my "free" time, whatever that is.

Children's Lighthouse's mission is to build the first-ever children's hospice in the Midwest. The mission and the need is incredible. There are over 9,000 children living in Minnesota with life-limiting conditions, of which 700 will die every year. The needs of children in these situations is so different from that of adults. They have siblings who wish to be with them, large extended families who become involved in their care, and, after their passing, a different kind of grief for the families to work through.

Unfortunately, the US healthcare system does not value comfort and care in these situations, and there is currently no reimbursement model for children's hospice care. Therefore, there are only 3 children's hospices in the United States, all of which are on the coasts.

That's not why I'm writing this post.

The Home Plate II event for Children's Lighthouse, Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis

A representation of the home and the children it will serve.
I'm writing this because I have come to believe that you get from the universe what you give to the universe.

The executive director of Children's Lighthouse, Katie Lindenfelser, is the most amazing person you will ever meet. She exudes peace. She has a grace and a patience in her manner that makes you take pause. She comes from humble roots, but has somehow managed to make connections with some very wealthy and connected individuals. From Nita Killebrew, the widow of Harmon Killebrew, Twins legend, to the well-known local DJ who volunteers his time to emcee the event, to many others, she has a way of personally connecting people to the mission.

When she talks about the mission, people open up about their own loss, losses that they may have kept quiet about for years. I sat at a table with couples who had not known each other prior to the evening. Throughout the conversation we learned that three of the couples at the table had lost a child, ranging in age from 45 days old to 3 and a half years old. They exchanged hugs and names and vowed to stay in touch. One person at the table is a pediatric hospice nurse who moved here from California, where one of the three hospices is. She is currently not employed but is supporting this hospice because she knows the need and the value. Another is a Medicare reimbursement specialist who is interested in volunteering her time to help CLM figure out how to get reimbursed for its care.

Things just fall together for this organization.

They had an incredibly successful fundraising event. They raised more than $80,000 during one portion of the evening, much less other revenue sources from the evening. It's a fraction of the millions they need to raise to build the home, but with the connections in the room, they will be able to get there.

I am not capturing how amazing this is.

Architectural drawing of the home in its planned location.
This is amazing because the organization has only one employee, Katie, the executive director. Everyone else is volunteering their time. No one has to do this, but everyone chooses to. That's how powerful this mission is, and how much of an inspiration Katie is.

When she was first introduced at the beginning of the evening she got a standing ovation, just for being who she is. The energy and love of that moment is something words cannot capture. Tears came to her eyes, she was so moved by the gesture.

I am honored to know her and to be a part of this incredible organization.

P.S. If you'd like to learn more about Children's Lighthouse, go to their website, And yes, the website was built and is maintained by volunteers. Other nonprofits are jealous.


  1. An incredible story. I had a friend go through the Hospice experience and I guess it was fine for he and his wife. He felt like that was where he needed to be. I must admit I'm not sure about a hospice facility for children as much as I would favor a vigorous home hospice system. After all, the age ranges are still in the area where parents care for them they need support so they can stay employed or get some time for themselves. I am proud of you involvement and if you say it is needed then it is needed. I just have other thoughts that's all.

  2. Thank you for posting, Jenny! I was sitting at the table with you!! Truly amazing experience and wonderful mission to be a part of! God Bless You!