Published May 21, 2013
Volume 21, Number 5

Taylor Family Foundation Assists Families with Children in Medical Crisis

The Taylor Family Foundation (TTFF) is perhaps best known for its camp programs at Camp Arroyo, the 144-bed facility near Livermore’s Del Valle Reservoir owned and operated by the East Bay Regional Park District. TTFF programs provide a recreational retreat for terminally, critically, chronically ill and at-risk youth. Yet for more than two decades, the nonprofit has been serving a broader mission, stepping in to provide assistance to families when a child is in medical crisis.

“The fog is so thick for parents at those moments, when their child is not well,” notes TTFF Executive Director Angie Carmignani. “We work to figure out how to help families in need, whatever that entails.”

Sometimes the assistance can truly be the answer to a family’s worst nightmare. Carmignani tells the story of an East Bay family that had been on vacation out of state when their daughter fell ill and needed emergency brain surgery. The parents were far from friends and resources and had depleted their finances.

“We stepped in to ease the burden. We paid for their hotel stay, got them in touch with the local Ronald McDonald House, researched flights, and paid for them to return home,” she relates. “There is no reason why parents should have to worry about those details when their child is not well.”

Established in 1991 by Elaine and Barry Taylor, the nonprofit began with a fairly low profile. The Foundation’s main mission was to support the local pediatric HIV/AIDS community, an especially sensitive group due to the strong social stigmas attached to the illness. “Avoiding publicity was one way to protect the families’ privacy,” Carmignani explains.

Now, however, with a steadily expanding camper population--from 2,300 five years ago to an anticipated 3,000 campers in 2013—TTFF is raising its visibility and adding new programs.

“On our 20th anniversary, we sat down and thought about what we wanted to look like for the next decade,” Carmignani says. “The camp is strong, but growth is significant--we used to do 11 sessions per year and now we are up to 31.  Our budget this year will tip $1 million. We need to raise more funds to support the direct services in our mission.”

In June TTFF will launch a music therapy program, which includes a mobile component that can travel for work with hospitalized children. The effects can be “amazing,” Carmignani comments. “A child who has no communication at all with his parents will start humming to a simple guitar strum or responding to song. We’ve found something to make him smile and open up a little.”

On the radar for next year is a camp for children battling weight, envisioned as a wellness program, with an emphasis on making the right food choices. “We’ve seen the effects of weight problems in our diabetic campers. The goal is to educate them about what’s good to put in their bodies.”

The advent of summer signals the height of Camp Arroyo activity, when most of the camping sessions will be held. On Sunday, August 25, TTFF will host its signature fundraiser, Day in the Park, known for its spectacular auction items. For ticket details, volunteer opportunities, and other information, visit www.ttff.org, call (925) 455-5118, or “follow us on Facebook to see what new adventures we are up to,” Carmignani urges.

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