Staying on track

Staying on track

Local charity uses technology to help sick children lead normal lives

By Emily Clark 05/29/2014

PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Bartschi

Hope’s Haven, a nonprofit children’s charity based in Camarillo, is on a mission to bring connectivity back to isolated kids in the pediatric units of hospitals waiting to be treated for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. As part of one of its many programs to make these kids’ lives a little bit easier, Hope’s Haven launched the iPad Project in May of 2014 — donating 15 iPads to the pediatric unit in the Ventura County Medical Center (VCMC).

The iPad Project was the inspiration by a newly appointed board of directors with the desire to help less fortunate families. Michael Fortini, vice chairman of the board, has a special connection to Hope’s Haven and the iPad Project. His son was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago. As he and his family were showered with support from the local community, he saw Hope’s Haven as an opportunity to give back.

“It gave me a unique opportunity to be effective,” Fortini said.

Sean Copeland, Hope’s Haven’s iPad committee chair, understands the importance of keeping up with normal ways of living.

“These kids are sitting in the treatment facilities for extended periods of time, not having much to do,” he said. “The focus and mission is to provide kids with the iPads so they can stay up on homework, communicate with family members, play games, watch movies — disconnect from the actual treatment process — just be kids.”

Christina Conley, executive director of Hope’s Haven, estimates they are helping 2,000 kids a year with the iPad Project. Children and their families will have access to the iPads while undergoing treatment. The charity plans on donating more iPads to VCMC and other facilities in the future. An upcoming pilot program for Ventura County children will allow them to check out iPads while traveling to distant facilities for treatment. Conley explains that what sets this nonprofit apart is the mission to bring connectivity to otherwise isolated children.

“We’re here because these families are on a difficult journey and we want them to know they’re not alone,” she said.

Hope’s Haven was founded in 2008 by Monica Mills and received nonprofit status the following year. The iPad Project was launched in 2013 to help children with serious illnesses and their families. Hope’s Haven has other program such as the Family Support Program to help these families pay bills and meet other basic needs while their children are being treated.

Fortini said that Hope’s Haven is “always looking for an extra set of hands” to contribute to the organization.

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