Butterflies are symbolic creatures that hold different meaning transcending all religion, cultures and spiritualities. Most often the butterfly is associated with endurance, hope, and in the case of Julia's Butterfly Foundation, change. Every year Me To You Box donates a portion of its annual profits to this life altering organization. We sat down with our dear friend, Christine Callahan, to learn more about the mission of Julia's Butterfly Foundation (aka JBF), and specifically just how it is transforming the lives of those it touches.
More About Julia's Butterfly Foundation and Christine:
JBF is a volunteer organization assisting families with chronically and terminally ill children. Christine is the president of Julia’s Butterfly Foundation, Inc. and serves as a member on the Executive Board as well as the Board of Directors. She is one of the founding board members who helped to incorporate and shape the direction of this amazing foundation. "Whether it be for items not covered by insurance or everyday needs, JBF is an organization that provides assistance and hope when it’s most needed to help families to catch a break."
Where did the name, Julia's Butterfly Foundation, come from?
The organization is named Julia’s Butterfly Foundation, Inc. after Julia Bommer who died just weeks before her 7th birthday. Julia was a patient in the Palliative Care "Butterflies Program" at Valley Hospital. The butterfly holds a special meaning to Julia's family and the Foundation. After Julia passed away, her mom Maureen had asked Julia’s siblings, her Girl Scout Troop, and classmates to color in a template of a butterfly as a way to grieve. The butterflies were attached to balloons and released into the sky following the funeral mass where family members released living butterflies. A few months later, when we incorporated and were looking for artwork for our logo, we discovered that the butterfly we use is actually called a 'Julia Butterfly' … it was kismet!
When was JBF founded?
Julia’s parent’s, Maureen and Stephen Bommer, started the foundation in May 2005 as a way to honor their little girl while helping other families. At Julia's funeral, they asked for donations in lieu of flowers. The idea here was to help other families struggling with the hidden costs of caring for a sick child. I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined the impact Julia’s life would have. Five months after Julia passed away, Julia's mother, Maureen, died from stage 4 cancer. Family and friends pledged to continue the legacy that was started and decided to incorporate. Almost 15 years later, JBF has awarded almost $1.7 million in giving to families in the Tri State and Philadelphia.
What specific "give back" has been the most meaningful to you thus far?
For me, the most impactful grant JBF has awarded was to a little boy named, Ray. We initially helped them purchase a van because Ray, who is non-ambulatory, had outgrown their former vehicle. Due to his condition and his inability to hold his head up, his breathing could be compromised at any point. By helping the family purchase a van, Ray can roll in and out of the vehicle on his own in his wheelchair while his head remains secure. This has allowed the family to go on outings and vacations together. This past year JBF was also able to grant the construction of an additional room to Ray’s home designed so he can move around in his wheelchair. On days when Ray's immune system is compromised and he cannot attend school, he participates through a video communication system. Ray recently joined the chorus and got a solo. He was able to sing in his school concert right from his home. How amazing is that? The impact feels immeasurable.
"Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable, butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine." -Jeffrey Glassberg
How can others give to Julia's Butterfly Foundation?
There are many ways to get involved with JBF:
Donate online. You can make an online donation at any time and you may even set up the donation as a monthly contribution if that is easier for your charitable budgeting.
Attend an event. We host a few events throughout the year which you can attend, and/or donate an item to for our auction. If you like to host events, you may want to consider hosting an event for JBF to introduce the foundation to your circle of friends.
“Kids helping Kids” campaign. Children can raise money for JBF. Events have included a dance benefit performance, mitzvah projects, sweet sixteen gifts and school projects. Kids have also conducted online fundraisers for their birthdays, in lieu of gifts.
Support participating local companies. We have relationships with many businesses here at home, who give back to the foundation annually like Me To You Box, the TD Bank Affinity Program, the PGA Tickets Fore Charity Program, as well as SmileAmazon and iGive programs.