Whom do you turn to when your child is plagued with a life-threatening illness? For many Westchester parents, the answer is Friends of Karen, a nonprofit organization that has been providing emotional, financial, and advocacy support for critically ill children and their families since 1978.
“We are the greatest organization I hope you never need to know,” says Friends of Karen’s executive director, Judith Factor, who oversees a staff of 27 employees and roughly 150 to 200 volunteers. In addition to its North Salem office, Friends of Karen has locations in Long Island and NYC.
The organization — which has supported 15,000 children in its nearly 40 years of service — helps families in the tri-state area with everything from managing mounting medical bills to providing personalized support. It also offers financial assistance for things like basic living expenses, travel costs to and from treatments, and childcare expenses to help care for siblings. Experienced social workers, creative-arts therapists, and child-life specialists work with the ill child, siblings, and parents to help them cope emotionally.
Completely dependent upon private donations, the nonprofit has been awarded nine consecutive four-star awards (the highest possible rating) by Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial efficiency and responsibility of more than 8,000 charities.
“With Friends of Karen’s team of experienced and compassionate social workers by their side every step of the way, families know that they are not alone during their child’s illness, that we care, and we will always go the extra mile to help in the most effective ways,” says Factor.