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The one hundred honoree: Andrew’s Helpful Hands

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Andrew’s Helpful Hands

Mass General Giving

Andrew’s Helpful Hands is a nonprofit charitable organization that directly pays up to 12 months of mortgage or rent for a family who has a child undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

When John and Zenaide Swenson’s son, Andrew (pictured left), relapsed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the emotional roller coaster they were on included significant financial stress. Andrew lived in the Bone Marrow Transplant ICU at Children’s Hospital Boston for more than six months. All Andrew wanted was to go home; however, financial issues made keeping the family home a hardship. That’s when Andrew’s uncle, John Sousa, successfully organized a fundraiser for his nephew and family. After the fundraiser, when Andrew’s parents explained to their 6-year-old how important it is to help each other, Andrew said, “We have to help all my friends in here, so their mommies can stay with them too.”

In April 2002, Andrew’s Helpful Hands was born. Andrew was the honorable director of his first fundraiser the following July. Andrew passed away soon after at age 7. In Andrew’s memory, his family continues his organization. They help ease the financial burden of cancer for families in Massachusetts so they can focus on what is most important: their child.