Giving back: Next generation restarts nonprofit to help families with sick kids

July 2015 Posted in Community
Kids with New Hope
The nonprofit group based in Mount Angel
will hold a chicken barbecue at Main
and Church streets on Saturday, July 4,
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or whenever the chicken
is sold out.Kids with New Hope provides families
with children facing a life-threatening
illness with financial support.

For information, contact Julie Smith
at 503-551-8842 or
or visit Kids with New Hope’s Facebook page.

By Kristine Thomas

Mount Angel resident Gwen Groomes has an sincere and simple reason for why she did what she did.

“It was our turn to help out and give back,” Gwen said. “It was time to begin again.”

Last year, Gwen along with her parents Larry and Julie Smith, restarted Kids with New Hope, a nonprofit organization started in 1983 to assist local families whose children are facing life-threatening illnesses.

Julie said the nonprofit organization was started after her daughter, Jessica, was diagnosed with a life-threatening childhood cancer in 1983.

“Our friends got together and started the group to help us with medical bills and it grew from there with providing support for other kids battling life-threatening illnesses,” Julie said. “We also learned there were two other children with illnesses so three families in Mount Angel had kids with terminal illnesses at the same time.”

Julie said they used to host a dance once a year to raise money for Kids with New Hope.

“People in this community just come out of the woodwork to help when there is a good cause,” she said.

Jessica was diagnosed in November 1983 and died in December 1984. She was 4 years old.

For more than 10 years, Kids with New Hope continued with fundraising events including the dance and the chicken barbecue.

Then it just fell off, Julie said, until her daughter learned a friend had a son with a terminal illnesses.

“Gwen started Kids with New Hope again,” Julie said.

The fundraisers have included a Christmas tree sale and the chicken barbecue.

The next Kids with New Hope Chicken Barbecue is Saturday, July 4, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or whenever the chicken has sold out. The booth will be at Church and Main streets, right across from the town fountain.

When Julie learned her daughter wanted to restart Kids with New Hope, she said she cried.

“I was so impressed and so touched that she wanted to do this and help her friend who was going through a child’s illness and death,” Julie said. “It always amazes me how when something bad happens, that all these wonderful people step up to help. It shows how many good people are out there.”

Gwen said she started Kids with New Hope last year because she wanted to help a high school friend whose child was battling an illness.

“I remember seeing my parents and their friends raising money to help families in need,” Gwen said. “We wanted to do something to help out in return for what our family received.”

Gwen remembers what it meant to her family to receive help and support when her sister was ill.

“Seeing my friend go through everything with her baby, it was devastating,” Gwen said. “We want to be able to help people out when they need it.”

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