Isaac's Friends is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity incorporated in South Carolina. Our initial service area is the Greenville, SC region with plans to rapidly expand throughout the southeast and eventually across the country. Where ever there are children in hospitals, we want to be there to help.The mission of Isaac's Friends is to promote the emotional well-being of children enduring hospitalization due to serious illness or injury by providing one-on-one interaction time with fun-loving, caring Child Advocates and to provide support to their families.
We are currently serving about 60-70 children a month. Since May, 2009, our Child Advocates have directly helped 1,000 children in local hospitals. Our services involve using therapeutic play in local hospitals where teens and children are under long term care. Child Advocates talk and play games with the children for 30 minutes to an hour per visit depending on the patients' conditions. The purpose is to provide love and care through attention, socializing, and play. The Child Advocates help bring some normalcy to the children's lives amidst abnormal and often depressing situations. We also support the family by providing services to the local Ronald McDonald Houses, helping to relieve some of the stress associated with caring for a hospitalized child and giving much needed hope, encouragement and support.
Research studies have shown that fun interaction time helps benefit the children in ways like:
QUOTES FROM PARENTS OF PATIENTS:
"I would like to thank you for being so thoughtful & blessing my son & I with gifts. May God bless you, LaShonda"
"Thank you for your generous donation of providing my family with one night's stay at the Ronald McDonald House. My family was visiting for the Thanksgiving holiday when I delivered our son prematurely @ 30 weeks. We are from Ohio and have been here for 5 weeks. We are looking forward to getting home, however, we are humbled by so many generous persons, including you. Sincerely, Ed, Kerri & Ryan"
"(He) is doing great. So far everything is fine with his leg, other than being a little sore, that is. He stayed groggy pretty much the whole day on Tuesday but yesterday... he was up and moving around with his walker. We were thrilled that you came by. People just don't understand what it means... unless you have been through it you have no idea what it is like. Again, we all thank you so very much for coming by and I wanted to thank Isaac's Friends for what you do for other children. God bless you always, Marie"
Meet our team of caring, dedicated leaders
Founder and Executive Director - Jamie Hughes
Board of Directors - John Lewis and Ben Lobengilo
Staff Photographer - Sydney Hughes
I have been asked many times how the idea for Isaac's Friends came about. The motivation to start this organization came from seeing a need that I could fill, both as a volunteer and as a leader.
There were two events in my life that led to the creation of Isaac's Friends. The first piece of the puzzle came in 1998 when my daughter, Sydney, turned 1 yr. old. She had been running a fever for almost a week and had been treated with antibiotics for several possible conditions. The treatments weren't working. She became so ill that she began to lose usage of her arms and legs. When she was taken to the emergency room at Greenville Memorial Children's Hospital, they admitted her and began running tests checking for everything from meningitis to Kawasaki's disease. She was in the hospital for 10 days.
That was the longest 10 days I had ever experienced, especially sleeping in a chair, lol! During her stay, one of my best friends came to give support and because there were no extra cots, slept on the floor of her room just to be there with us. That act taught me what sacrifice and support were really about and instilled in me a great desire for helping people going through tough times. While Sydney was undergoing treatment, there were things that made her stay less frightening and difficult for her. For example: Ronald McDonald came around and talked to the kids, there was a wagon for her to ride in, there were toys and games to play, and a couple from our church brought her a brown stuffed teddy bear that she called "Baby" - that bear has had numerous "surgeries" and she still has it today (Sydney is now 13 years old). Do you see how one act of kindness and love can impact someone's life for years to come?
The next event that influenced the creation of Isaac's Friends had nothing to do with me but involved a friend. Not the imaginary kind of friend that you talk to your therapist about, but a real person - a boy named Brandon. Brandon was 15 at the time and we attended the same church. I was friends with his dad and mom and had great respect for them and their family, as did everyone that knew them. Brandon ran cross country track and was active in the youth group at church. One day the news came out - he had been diagnosed with leukemia. That news was very saddening, very sobering. I saw the hardship that his family went through during the next year. I got to spend a little time with them at church and at their home and saw how "normal" activities, such as playing video games and hanging out with friends, helped Brandon so much. After aggressive treatment did not work, the only possibility was a blood transfusion. Brandon's little brother was a match and bravely gave of himself to help his brother. The leukemia went into remission, but not for long. When it came back it was too much for the young man to take. At 16, Brandon lost the battle with that dreadful disease. There are so many lessons that I have learned over the years since then just from reflecting on this one person's life. As a parent, I empathize with his father - hoping that I will never have to face what he did, what so many parents have to go through. I saw the strength and hope and faith that is available to us, and that we can give to others. Another definitive lesson in support and love. Our organization helps many children and families that are hurting and scared - giving them support, love, and encouragement because my heart was touched by Brandon.
I knew that many, many children were facing similar circumstances and needed the emotional support from a friend. I saw a need that I could do something about, so I did. The idea came to me to take a laptop with games on it into the children's hospital to play games with kids that were hurting, afraid and sometimes lonely. Spending time one-on-one to have fun and alleviate some of the fear, pain and anxiety and to let the parents know people care about their circumstances and what they are going through. The name Isaac's Friends comes from my son, Isaac. He has always displayed care and love for other children, wanting to help others any way he can. He was the perfect example of what it means to be a friend to someone in their time of need. It took a couple of years for the concept to materialize and as of July 25, 2008 Isaac's Friends became a recognized charity in South Carolina. Our first service arrangement was with Greenville Memorial Children's Hospital in May, 2009 and then with the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville. We began helping with special programs for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville early in 2010. We expanded our full Child Advocate program to Palmetto Health Richland Children's Hospital in Columbia, SC by the summer of 2010. Our goal is to expand our Child Advocate program to additional hospitals throughout the country to give thousands of children love and laughter on a daily basis. We would like to thank all of those that have and continue to support our organization, reaching out to be a friend to the sick and injured children and their families. Please consider partnering with us by making your donation: