Helping sick parents care for their kids

November 17, 2009 3:21:19 PM PST
Every year, hundreds of parents come down with illnesses that make them too sick to care for their kids. But a remarkable center in New York lends a helping hand to families caught in this nightmare situation. When you get sick, the first thing you think about is getting better. When you're a parent and you get sick, you think about who will care for your kids if you don't get better. And there's a non-profit that helps parents cope with just that situation..

The Family Center offers home visits, which help ensure that Luz is not only healthy, but also managing her home life.

Luz has HIV, but her children do not. And to make sure her kids will be taken care of, she turned to the Family Center.

"They have social workers, counseling for the family," she said. "They have a legal department, legal will guardianship for the children."

They are all services that can offer Luz peace of mind.

And that's why Ivy Gamble Cobb started the foundation.

"If you're a parent and you're living with a life-threatening illness, there are a lot of issues," she said. "So we can offer support."

There is a health class offered, or a workshop for grandparents who've become the primary care givers of their grandchildren.

This year alone, the non-profit has served 600 families throughout the five boroughs. Most of their clients are single parents facing HIV, AIDS or cancer.

"We can help parents plan for the worst, as they hope for the best," Cobb said.

And while hope may not be a cure, it can help those living with an illness and their loved ones lead more productive, fulfilling lives.

"You have to think about it," Luz said. "I don't know if I'll be here today or tomorrow, or if I'll wake is a relief, it's a weight off my shoulders."

A unique aspect of the Family Center is that the board of directors is made up of leaders in the community, as well as clients who take part in Family Center programs. This way, they always have a voice about what works and what doesn't. The Family Center runs strictly on grants and donations.

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