Nonprofit offers resources for kids

The Brave Warrior Project partnered with Douglas County Fire District 2 in East Wenatchee last summer to provide visits to the fire station. Twenty children participated. (Provided photo/Chris Ohta Photography)

 

By Darlene Paterson
Empire Press Correspondent

The Brave Warriors Project sponsored a core training and safety services class to teach babysitters how to care for children with special needs. This included training in first aid and CPR. (Provided photo/Chris Ohta Photography)

In 2012, Erica Moshe, an oncology nurse at Confluence Health, heard that her cousin’s son had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma and flown directly from Confluence to Children’s Hospital in Seattle.

Moshe immediately started planning a fundraiser to assist with expenses for the family during this difficult time. Since the diagnosis happened in December, she combined her organizational skills with her love of photography to produce a Santa photo shoot. The fundraiser provided help for her cousin’s family during the nine months of successful cancer treatment at Children’s Hospital.

When the next Christmas season approached, Moshe thought, “If I can help one family, I can help more families, simply by donating my time.”

Consequently, the Santa photo shoot continued every year. Chris and Heidi Ohta of Chris Ohta Photography and Lisa and Adam O’Dell have assisted Moshe with the photo shoots. Funds raised provide items such as gas cards and lodging, or help with medical and family expenses. To date, $20,000 has been donated to pediatric cancer families. “This year we took about 2,000 pictures during the event at Newbery Elementary School,” Moshe said.

Moshe’s desire to help children did not stop with Christmas fundraisers. As she searched for resources for her own autistic son, she realized there were few services available in the area. “There are many barriers for families in small communities who have children with special needs or chronic illness that keep them from finding the help they need,” she said.

She shared her desire to provide helpful services with a small group of interested people who helped her dream become reality. In 2017, a nonprofit called The Brave Warrior Project — so named by one of its own “little warriors” — was formed.

The organization serves families in Okanagan, Grant, Chelan and Douglas counties who have children with serious illnesses or disabilities.

The mission statement of The Brave Warrior Project is “to eliminate barriers to treatment, health and wellness by developing programs, providing support, education and financial assistance to children and their families battling cancer, chronic illness or disability.” It seeks to provide hope, change lives and strengthen families who deal with children’s health issues.

A nine member volunteer board meets monthly to plan projects and garner resources.

“We have a fantastic board,” Moshe said. “We have moms whose children have had cancer, counselors, attorneys, a physician’s assistant and a fund-raiser on our board.”

In addition to Moshe, who is president, board members are Carrie Van Lith, vice president; Christie Young, secretary; Adam O’Dell, treasurer; Clayton Graef, attorney; and Lisa O’Dell, Bertha Sanchez, Jill Stephens and Christina Guerrero.

Projects facilitated in 2017 included free support groups, educational classes and counseling for parents and a buddy art program and sensory development events for the children. Fundraisers included a Christmas toy drive and the Santa photo shoots.

The Brave Warrior Project partnered with Douglas County Fire District 2 in East Wenatchee last summer to provide visits to the fire station. Twenty children participated with five children at each of the four sessions. “The firefighters came in their gear and opened the station so kids could explore and interact with the firemen,” Moshe said. “It provided a wonderful sensory experience for the kiddos and was a big hit. We plan to do it again this next summer.”

“We would like to expand the program to include other first responders such as policemen and paramedics,” Moshe added. “This program helps the children become familiar with fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and first responders in case they are faced with emergency situations. The program also helps our first responders know and understand our kids.”

The Brave Warriors Project sponsored a core training and safety services event on Feb. 3. The class, held at Wellness Place in Wenatchee, was geared specifically towards teaching babysitters how to care for children with special needs and taught by a behavior therapist. Fifteen people, ranging in age from 11 to adult, attended the class. Participants also received training in first aid, CPR and behavioral analysis.

“We partner with Confluence Health, Columbia Valley Community Health and the health district,” Moshe said. “Our goal is to help our small communities by providing resources and health care that will help their brave little warriors flourish.”

The Brave Warriors Project provides events, develops resources and promotes fundraising where 100 percent of all proceeds go to meet the needs of those it serves.

“We have helped over 100 families through fundraising, parental educational programs and children’s events,” Moshe said.

Coming up in May, attorneys from Seattle and the Tri-Cities will be presenting a seminar for parents about obtaining IEPs (individualized education plans) specific to children with special needs and health issues.

Another exciting event coming up for the children is a visual and social story event with Heather McNeil of “Can-do-Kids.”

As the program continues to grow, long-term goals include purchasing a house where respite and palliative care would be provided. They hope to include a playground and gardens — a place of hope and healing.

Shorter term goals include setting up year round basketball and aquatic programs.

“Our goal is to collaborate with others to get these kiddos what they need,” Moshe said. “Our mission is to always put the children’s needs first.”

The nonprofit’s website, thebravewarriorproject.com, provides updated information on upcoming events and lists volunteer opportunities.

“We appreciate all the support we have received from our community,” Moshe concluded. “We look forward to increased partnerships and support as we continue to grow and develop.”