Helping families through a yellow bag of sunshine
As a Customer Service Specialist at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, I often meet families who arrive at the hospital quite unexpectedly. They find themselves here for a two to three day stay after what began as a quick visit to the Emergency Department. They may manage to arrive with resources for their child, but are usually without any basic items to take care of themselves. As I move to assist families in such circumstances, my hand often reaches for a bright yellow bag of sunshine that reads: Paul’s Project.
What is Paul's Project?In 2008, a young 4th grader, by the name of Paul Doussan, was given a school assignment to create and implement a community service project. At the time, his family friends, Karen and Mat Gliddon, had just lost their brave 5-year-old son Mathew to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Through his friendship with the Gliddon family, Paul noticed a need. Parents of critically ill children often end up without the basic resources to make it through an unexpected hospital stay.
With the help of his family and the Gliddons, Paul launched his service project: Parent Accessory Care Kits, known to our Arnold Palmer Hospital families as "Paul’s PACKS." These PACKS contain things like: shampoo, toothbrushes, pen, paper, socks, flip flops, deodorant and even a deck of cards! There is a huge cozy blanket too! These PACKS become a true “life saver” to families at our hospital, and a much appreciated resource in a time of need.
To date, Paul’s Project has delivered 1,046 PACKS to Orlando area hospitals, and Arnold Palmer Hospital families have been the recipients of several hundred of those! Each PACK costs about $40.00 to make, and as you can imagine, the need for these bags continues to increase. That’s why NOVA University has joined forces with Paul’s Project to help raise funds. They are sponsoring a golf tournament, as well as a few other events, to help supply Arnold Palmer Hospital and other area hospitals with more PACKS for our families. The tournament takes place on July 20th, so if you are a golf fan or just want to be part of something amazing, check out www.putting4pauls.com for more information.
There are so many times that Paul’s PACKS make a difference in the lives of real people in our community. We are so grateful to have this resource, so that we can make a situation that can be very difficult, a little bit easier for our families. I also love to inspire our patients and tell them the story about how a 4th grade boy saw a need, found a way to meet it, and has impacted thousands of families as he accomplished it! Paul continues to tell kids of all ages that anyone can make a difference and that’s sunshine that doesn’t come in a bag!