The Catherine Pappas & Family Fundraising Challenge aims to inspire others to help create a permanent endowment to keep the Child Life Services program going indefinitely.

The Child Life Services program in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) provides therapeutic, comfortable and engaging family-centered environments for children undergoing treatment for cancer.

“It is so important that children and their families find a safe and comforting environment when they come to MGHfC.”

“It is so important that children and their families find a safe and comforting environment when they come to MGHfC,” says Howard Weinstein, MD, chief of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. “Our child life team is highly trained to educate and nurture our patients throughout the process of treatment and to create a positive and empowering experience for them.”

Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Catherine Pappas, the Child Life Services program has made great strides in helping children and their families deal with this devastating and life-threatening disease. A significant gift from Mrs. Pappas’ estate funded the program’s current operations in 2015. Building on this progress that same year, a Challenge was launched to match up to $1.25 million in additional donations to create the first ever endowment for the Child Life Services program, which will ensure the position of a full time Child Life specialist in perpetuity.

Mass General has until December 31, 2017, to raise $1.25 million as its part in meeting the Catherine Pappas & Family Challenge for Child Life Services. Please join the hospital and meet Mrs. Pappas’ challenge. As you consider, read on to learn how the Child Life Services program makes a real difference in the daily lives of deserving young patients and their families.

Catherine Pappas
Catherine Pappas

Child Life Specialists

Mass General’s Child Life team assists children from infancy through adolescence facing illness and medical treatment by aiming to decrease their anxiety and fostering positive coping skills.

The direct impact of a Child Life specialist is apparent at the Burr Proton Therapy Center. Although proton treatment is not painful, patients must wear a fitted plastic mask that keeps their head completely still during treatment. Because this can be frightening, many young patients require anesthesia before treatment.

Having a Child Life specialist on hand to coach and practice with the children has decreased the use of anesthesia during this time-intensive treatment. That means the recovery time from sedation is significantly reduced and staff can treat more children every day. Currently, funding allows for a Child Life specialist to be at Burr Proton Therapy center two days a week. But Pappas grant support in recent years has allowed the department to strategically plan ways to expand the Child Life Services program, improving the care for our youngest patients.

Music Therapy Services

Music therapy is an evidence-based practice that can affect physical, psychological, social and cognitive changes. At the MGHfC Cancer Center, it is used to decrease stress, anxiety and pain, while promoting healthy coping during treatment and hospitalization.

Thanks in great part to initial financial support from Mrs. Pappas for operations, the department has expanded its music-therapy services. With the addition of a new position, the outpatient pediatric clinic has increased from 5 hours to 15.5 hours per week. The inpatient music therapy service has increased from 22 hours to 34 hours.

This is the first time the clinic has been able to provide consistent, daily, patient-centered care to both the inpatient and outpatient populations. The increased hours let staff participate on multidisciplinary clinical teams and memorial gatherings and consult on other pediatric floors, such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Fund for Families

Mrs. Catherine Pappas left a legacy of compassion and hope for children and their families.

The Fund for Families is another area that has benefited from Mrs. Pappas’ giving. This general fund supports families whose children are being treated at the MGHfC Cancer Center. It provides support for acute needs such as meal tickets for the Mass General cafeteria, supermarket and gas station gift cards and emergency assistance with rent and utility bills. An amazing resource for these daily expenditures, this aid provides families security and sometimes much-needed entertainment or celebratory diversion.

Mrs. Catherine Pappas left a legacy of compassion and hope for children and their families. The Pappas family hopes to inspire others to join her in creating a permanent endowment to keep the Child Life Services program going indefinitely, and grow its ability to better serve patients. Most importantly, this fund will ensure a Child Life specialist position for many years to come. As Mrs. Pappas knew, these expanded services require increased philanthropy.

Thank you for considering a gift now to the Child Life Services program in Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and doubling your support this year!

For more information about how you can contribute, please contact us