Giving Back

The Power of Philanthropy: Nine-year-old Caroline’s gift to Sheppard Pratt

Chris and April are parents of six children.

A large family might be challenging for many, but Chris and April’s family was coping with an additional challenge: Last year, their 8-year-old daughter, Caroline, exhibited severe behavior problems that upended family life and prevented her from attending school.

The family turned to Sheppard Pratt for help—at Caroline’s request. She was admitted to the children’s inpatient unit in Towson, where she attended group sessions and learned skills to help manage her anger.

One year later, Caroline asked to come back to Sheppard Pratt, this time not as a patient, but to show her gratitude. She enlisted her parents and extended family in collecting donations for toys, games, and other enrichment items for children in the child and adolescent units. The day after Thanksgiving, the family wheeled in boxes of items to distribute.

Caroline’s generosity demonstrates the importance of philanthropy in enhancing patient experience. Heather Billings, Associate Nursing Director for Sheppard Pratt’s child and adolescent service line, explained how contributions can make a big difference.

“The average length of stay is seven to 10 days. Having items children can call their own comforts them,” Billings says. With additional philanthropic support, each child could receive a kit upon admission that includes age-appropriate items, from stuffed animals to games to art supplies. She’d especially like every child to have his or her own journal.

“These are small ways that philanthropy can make a big difference in the care our patients receive,” says Donna Richardson, Vice President and Chief Development Officer. She added that Caroline’s efforts to collect items for the child and adolescent units show the power contributions have for people getting help.

Today, Caroline is attending public school again and is enjoying all the things that a typical 9-year-old girl does, like sleepovers, says her father, Chris. He says his entire family is grateful for the treatment Caroline received, but more importantly, for the turnaround she’s made. Caroline’s family can go on outings, eat in restaurants, and have relaxing days at home, none of which were possible before Caroline came to Sheppard Pratt. That’s perhaps the best gift of all.

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