(Aug. 23, 2019) It was a cause for celebration last Thursday for board members, volunteers and supporters of the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation when the organization finally broke ground on its new pediatric housing facility on 65th Street.
When completed in late 2020, this new respite property will prioritize U.S. military families who have critically ill children, as well as children with short life expectancies.
With seven locations throughout the Delmarva area, Believe in Tomorrow will be established as the largest pediatric oncology respite program in the United States as well as the world.
The new respite property, comprised of a two-story condominium with three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a rooftop deck, will be adjacent to the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House By the Sea, which is a five-condominium building on 66th Street.
The new facility will cost around $1 million when completed.
Initial construction funding is being provided by a $250,000 gift from Believe in Tomorrow supporter Sunny Vargas in memory of her late husband, Larry McDaniel, who was also a volunteer and donor.
Additional funding is being provided by a $100,000 award from the NASCAR Foundation in honor of Carl Dakes, a Believe in Tomorrow volunteer and recipient of the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian of the Year Award last year as well as a $100,000 grant from former senator Jim Mathias and current senator Mary Beth Carozza.
Brian Morrison, CEO of Believe in Tomorrow, repeatedly expressed his gratitude to the people who helped make this groundbreaking possible.
“What a great day for Believe in Tomorrow and most importantly, what a great day for the families and children that this building is going to serve for many, many years,” Morrison said. “When completed this new property will prioritize military pediatrics, critically ill children whose families are in the military and prioritize children with very short life expectancies.
“The expansion of this firmly establishes Believe in Tomorrow as the largest pediatric respite program in the entire United States and the entire world,” he continued. “Mayor Rick Meehan, you lead one of the most generous and welcoming cities in the entire state of Maryland. Since 1986, restaurants and businesses have quickly embraced Believe in Tomorrow and the children and families that have traveled the country to stay here. If anyone has ever wondered where hope and optimism reside, you can find those qualities alive and well here in Ocean City every day of the week, every day of the year.”
Dozens upon dozens of guests arrived for the groundbreaking ceremony, including Meehan, Mathias, Carozza and Delegate Wayne Hartman as well as Believe in Tomorrow volunteers and donors such as Todd and Jill Ferrante, Bunk Mann, Igor Conev and Jason Gulshen and Believe in Tomorrow Prom Queen EJ Foxx.
Additional honored guests included Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his wife, Yumi, who have been proud supporters of Believe in Tomorrow for several years.
“This is a really great day for Believe in Tomorrow, for Ocean City and for the state of Maryland,” Hogan said. “Like so many of you and so many Marylanders, I’ve spent most of my life coming to Ocean City with my family ... but for so many families, coming to Ocean City is just a beloved place to get away, relax and reconnect.”
Hogan gave Morrison an official governor’s citation in recognition for his services to children prior to the ceremonial groundbreaking.
“Today I am just honored to be a small part of this to help everyone who’s done all the hard work,” Hogan said. “My wife, Yumi, and I have seen firsthand the comfort, the hope and the joy that Believe in Tomorrow brings to some many families who are facing very difficult challenges. What began with one oceanfront condo here in Ocean City more than three decades ago, has become an internationally recognized foundation which has provided over 900,000 overnight stays to deserving children and families.
“It truly is a testament to the power of compassion and I’m proud to support continued growth of Believe in Tomorrow and all of its programs,” he continued.
But perhaps no one was more overjoyed about the new construction than Children’s House by the Sea Respite Coordinator Wayne Littleton.
“It’s a very exciting day for the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, especially the Ocean City Respite Housing Program,” Littleton said. “Hopefully this time next year we’ll be able to bring down eight families instead of six and we’ll have a beautiful facility that hopefully people will just drive up the street just to see.
“My biggest fear is people are going to see this one and they’re not going to want to stay at the other houses,” he joked. “It’s a very exciting day for our charity and we appreciate everyone who has a hand in what we do here. Everybody is part of our family.”
The Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation is headquartered in Baltimore, and has provided over 900,000 overnight accommodations to critically ill children and their families through its pediatric respite and hospital housing programs.
The organization believes in keeping families together during a child’s medical crisis, and that the gentle cadence of normal family life has a powerful influence on the healing process.
The foundation was established in 1982 and created the first pediatric respite program in the United States in Ocean City in 1986.
Believe in Tomorrow is a leading provider of support services to U.S. military families with critically ill children, and to families throughout the country being treated in major children’s hospitals.
The Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House at Johns Hopkins recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is the only family-centered residential facility on the grounds of the hospital.
Believe in Tomorrow is in the process of mobilizing contributions for a wide array of building materials, skilled construction services, and funding that is needed to complete this project. Anyone interested in joining this effort is encouraged to contact Believe in Tomorrow Chief Operating Officer Maryanne Davis, who is coordinating this process, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-744-1032; or Morrison at bmorrison@believein tomorrow.org, 410-744-1032.