Ludwig is one of a growing number of local volunteers who work with the recently formed Fairy Godmother Project to help make the lives of families whose children have cancer less stressful. The nonprofit charity began in Fredericksburg about 18 months ago and opened a Richmond chapter in January.
“I can’t imagine how hard it must be for these families to go through this. It makes me realize how lucky I am. Volunteering is a way for me to reach out to them and help them,” she said.
The Fairy Godmother Project got its name when Andie McConnell, who founded the Fredericksburg chapter, was helping a family so that they could take care of their 22-month-old daughter Evy, who had brain cancer. Evy’s mother dubbed Andie her fairy godmother and the movement began.
Laura Leporati, volunteer coordinator for the Richmond chapter, said volunteers provide assistance with “little things” like meals, housework, yard work, organizing and other domestic duties that the parents can’t do because they are caring for their child. “It takes the stress off and gives them time to focus on their child,” she said.
Currently, the Richmond chapter is helping two families in Chesterfield County. One family has a 5-year-old daughter who has neuroblastoma cancer, and needs to travel to North Carolina for treatment. The other family has a 17-year-old son who is fighting leukemia.
“We would like to help more families,” Leporati said. Families who need assistance should fill out a request form available on the website and indicate the kind of support they would like to receive. The child’s doctor also will need to fill out a form.
The Fairy Godmother Project welcomes more volunteers and business partners. Leporati said the local chapter has about 20 volunteers. Volunteer application forms and more information about the organization are available on the website. Background checks and references are required. Training is provided.
The charitable organization also seeks partnerships with local businesses that would be willing to provide gift cards, meals, cleaning, yard care and other goods and services. For example, Made To Sparkle Cleaning in Midlothian has donated cleaning services, Dream Dinners in Richmond has donated meals and sponsored a fundraising event, and area farms have donated produce.
Professional photographers also have volunteered to take high quality family photos. “A lot of families say they’ll take them later, but ‘later’ never comes,” Leporati said.
Photographers interested in volunteering should contact Stephanie Johnson at Photos@FairyGodmotherProject.org.
Last year, the Fairy Godmother Project arranged for Sarah Downey, a professional photographer, to take photos of the Kilpatricks, a Mechanicsville family, whose son Chase was fighting cancer and is doing very well now.
Individuals, churches, scout groups and other groups also may help by raising funds and donating gift cards that the families could use for gas, groceries, restaurants, etc.
The Richmond Chapter’s application for 501(c)3 nonprofit certification is in progress.
For more information, contact Leporati at 601-0639, Richmond@FairyGodmotherProject.org or visit www.fairygodmotherproject.org.