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Fundraiser for Parents’ Grief Retreat

Dear Supporters 
We are thrilled to be hosting our 2nd Parents’ Grief Retreat Oct 8 – 10 and would love the help of Kisses for Hearts supporters. We would like to raise $3,000 to ensure we can provide this unique retreat to parents. Our Retreat provides parents who have lost a child, a weekend of respite, healing and connection to their child and other parents who share this unique loss. 

Donate here

Our retreat is led by Mark Dannenfelser, Founding Director of the Mindfulness Center of Atlanta. Mark teaches in the areas of mindfulness meditation, stress reduction, contemplative practice, spiritual direction and psychological healing. His clinical work is with anxiety, depression, addiction, grief and trauma.

Our on-site therapist is Jill Crunkleton, MSA. She has years of experience providing grief support services to adults and children that includes individual counseling, support groups, memorial services and bereavement camps for children and youth.

Additionally, we have Hannah Randall, Art Therapist & Paige Hinton, Yoga Instructor.

These professionals share a desire to give back and help parents in need, this tends to be an underserved community, especially parents losing young children and our retreat is an outstanding mix of healing, learning coping tools & therapeutic discussion.  

Your donations will help cover the cost of the retreat which is approximately $600/person. Our foundation subsidizes over 50% of the costs and we will direct your donations to this year’s retreat and our 2023 retreat. 

Donate here

Thank you so very much for your continued support. Please share with friends and family who may be interested in supporting our cause. 

Keely & Phillip Funkhouser

Donate here

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Parents Grief Retreat

It has been 4 years since Emery died after rejecting her heart. We will always be devastated and the first year was the hardest to survive.
In the aftermath of fighting rejection and losing the battle I sought out grief therapy and grief groups but wasn’t satisfied with those particular experiences. I was desperate for help though. A year after Emery died my job was eliminated from the company I had worked for for 15 years. This was definitely a grief trigger, grieving the job loss in addition to losing Emery. During my unemployment I learned of a Mother’s Grief Retreat in WI. It was hosted by a mom who lost a son to HLHS and I felt like this may be the right time to try another grief support mechanism.
My experience during that retreat inspired me to bring a similar experience to families in GA. It took 2 years to get it together and now we have a wonderful weekend planned for both moms and dads. This is an opportunity for parents to invest in themselves and reconnect with their child. It’s a time to disconnect from the pressures of life and be given the space to grieve and learn healing techniques.
I am so passionate about this & believe so strongly in the benefits that we have decided to cover the majority of the cost with money we raised in Emery’s honor from Emery’s Kisses for Hearts fund.
The retreat begins today at 6 PM and I hope it lives up to my dreams for the benefits I believe parents will receive from attending.

Thank you to all of our supporters, without your donations we wouldn’t have this opportunity to help others.

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It’s Beanie Boo time! Celebrating Emery & Giving Back to CHOA Families

It is hard to believe another year has come and gone without Emery in our house and our lives. She would be celebrating her 10th birthday in a month, the big double digit birthday. I try to imagine what she would look like and how her voice would have changed. I wonder what she would be playing with (I guarantee Beanie Boos would still be a major love of hers) and who her closest friends would be. There isn’t a moment that passes by where I don’t recognize the quiet that has blanketed our lives, Emery had so much love and life to give and I miss hearing her tell me she loves me and having her climb on my lap or listening to her incredible laugh.

The moments that help me feel better are those when I know her legacy is helping other families and children who are coping with CHDs. We started a tradition of delivering Beanie Boos to kids at CHOA on Emery’s birthday & hosting a dinner for the families in the unit. We plan to do that again next month and would love to collect as many Beanie Boos as we can. When we hand the gift to the families they are so surprised by the unexpected gesture and grateful to see their kids being loved by others.

 

You can send Beanie Boos to us at 705 Cheswich Overlook SE, Marietta, GA 30067 or you can make a donation online and we will buy Boos.

Online: https://PayPal.me/KissesForHearts

I also wanted to share some feedback from families who have used the new kitchen at Egleston, this gift we were able to make is doing more than I even anticipated. Thank you all for the support that continues to put wind in our sails, especially when the weight of the loss sometimes feels to much to bear.

“This afternoon in the kitchen 4 women were sitting at the table sharing lunch and conversation. For that one moment in time they had privacy, a table to share, and possibly a little taste of normalcy (which in seminary they taught us means “shalom”).”

“I wanted to let you know a story about a sweet little 10 year old who was recently listed for a heart transplant who is on the CSU. She got up a few days ago and made cupcakes for the staff on the CSU as a thank you to them for taking such good care of her. She also made herself eggs for breakfast yesterday. I heard this story and immediately thought of you guys and how this would not have been possible without you!”

“I just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU!! I cannot put into words how amazing and helpful the kitchen has been during this stay. Our son was born with HLHS and we spent almost all of his first 6 months of life at Egleston. I remember the long walks to the family waiting area just to grab something out of the shared cardiac and NICU refrigerator. This stay, what a difference! The convenience of only having to walk a few feet to the kitchen is only the beginning. New friendships have been made, delicious food has been cooked, and just having a wonderful place to be able to go and “get away” without actually having to go very far. I spend a good bit of my time in my kitchen when I’m at home, so having one here makes our stay just a little bit easier. My son is 12 days post Fontan and we are on day 4 of our temporary fat free diet due to chylothorax. Because of you all, The Reese Family and other donors, we have been able to cook for him and make a not-so-fun diet a little more bearable. What a gift you all have given to your fellow cardiac families. We are forever grateful ❤️💙”

“I wanted to let you know what an impact the kitchen is having for our families. I love when they cook together and eat together. We had a mom bake cookies the other night and share them with the families on the unit. I feel it is just what you were hoping to do. I love it!”

 

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Big Fundraising Success / Thank you

I wanted to share that our fundraiser, held at The Mill Kitchen & Bar Oct. 24, was a huge success. We had a great turn out of family and friends to support us which always helps us feel better. It is comforting to have the support and to be able to talk about Emery with people. The restaurant was able to donate almost $1,000 to Emery’s fund and we collected an additional $3,000 from our very generous supporters. We want to thank each of you for making a donation and/or coming to the dinner.

For anyone who didn’t make it, we also brought shirts for sale and if you’d like to order Kisses for Hearts shirts we have adult and children’s sizes. You can go to this site to order Heart Kisses Shirts.

As always, thank you so much & we’re sending virtual hugs!

shirt-front-boostershirt-back-booster-jpg-copy

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Halloween Dining For Dollars Fundraiser

THE Mill LogoDate & Time: Tuesday, October 24: 5 – 9 PM

Location: 590 Mimosa Boulevard, Roswell

Call for reservations: 770-817-9345 Online reservations

You are invited to an exciting event at The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Historic Roswell to support Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts. Your overwhelming support & generosity last year enabled us to fund a family kitchen in CHOA’s cardiac step down unit and it will open this December! We continue to honor Emery’s life, build awareness of CHD and support other heart families. This year we are raising $10,000 to support two causes that benefited Emery & our family.

Please call ahead to make your reservations as we anticipate a large turn out.

Emery&EmersonHalloween
Emery & Emerson Kids R Kids PreK-3 Halloween

The Mill Kitchen & Bar will generously donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts foundation. Please help us work toward our $10,000 goal and come enjoy a great Halloween themed dinner, Emery’s favorite holiday. Come dressed in your favorite costume & bring the kids. Bonuskids eat free every Tuesday at The Mill Kitchen & Bar.

Be sure you plan to stop by the Kissy Face photo station to help us spread love for CHD patients and raise awareness for CHD research & cures.

Can’t make it October 24? You can still donate online and help us reach our goal!
Enduringheartslogo

Enduring Hearts mission is to fund important and innovative research to increase the longevity of pediatric heart transplants, and improve the quality of life for transplant recipients.

kidsatheartchoa

CHOA Kids at Heart, sponsored by CHOA’s Sibley Heart Center, offers parents, families and caregivers of kids with congenital heart defects a chance to come together and share their experiences.

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The Kitchen is Moving Ahead!

I just received an email letting me know the family kitchen construction in the Egleston Step Down Unit will begin in August. What a relief and how exciting to see it come to fruition. We could not have made this happen so fast without the generous support of all the donor’s to Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts fund.

Emery's Kitchen sign

We have new plans for this year, we would like to raise $10,000 in order to support the CHOA Kids at Heart program and pediatric transplant research.

If you’d like to help us reach our $10,000 goal please feel free to donate here.

Kids at Heart was established to provide a community of support for CHD patients and families. They host several events each year that allow families with the common stress of CHD to connect & enjoy themselves doing things they may not otherwise be able to participate in. We want to ensure as their community grows they can continue to offer the great programs we benefitted from. Additionally, they are kicking off a bereavement group that unfortunately too many families of CHD patients end up finding themselves in. We want to ensure that program can help families like us who tragically lose a child to CHD.

Our vision is to see a world free of CHD therefore we are also donating money that will fund critical research to bring innovative treatments to CHD patients and pediatric transplant patients to ensure better outcomes and long lives.

If you’d like to help us reach our $10,000 goal please feel free to donate here.

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Emery’s 9th Birthday Recognition & Beanie Boo Drive – You Can Help!

It is hard to even think Emery would be turning 9. She is forever frozen in my mind and heart as a newly turned 7 year old. I know as time goes by it will be tougher and tougher to think of all the years and milestones we are missing without her. As hard as it is to recognize her birthday and sometimes I wish I could skip it, it’s more important to reflect on how she came into this world and the impact she had on us & many others for her brief 7 years. When Emery died we set out with a mission to help other families who are spending a lot of time in the hospital with their children who have CHDs and are either facing transplant, having a transplant or dealing with rejection. The Sibley Heart Center at CHOA-Egleston remains busy with newborns & new families coping with a CHD diagnosis as well as older kids coping with the challenges of living with a CHD.

In honor of Emery’s birthday, July 30, we will sponsor a family dinner at Egleston through their Feed the Heart Program. This means we will pay for a catered dinner to serve 30 – 40 families who are there with kids in the CICU or Step Down Unit. This program was relatively new when we were there 2 years ago and I am so happy to see it has grown and been supported by other CHD families, either by sponsoring dinners or donating food to the pantry. Because of your generous donations and outpouring of love and support last year both of these will be well supported by the family kitchen . We have anticipated the kitchen would be ready by now but there have been some delays due to agreeing on the exact space it will reside in. Space is hard to come by due to the high volume of patients at Egleston so it is no easy feat to find the right place. We are still optimistic it will be built this year.

We would like to ask for help with this year’s birthday event & we are asking for you to help us provide Beanie Boos again for the patients. They were so appreciated last year therefore we plan to attend the family dinner and hand out Beanie Boos.

We would love to collect 50 Beanie Boos, any size is appreciated. You can buy them several places or send money (small are typically $6 & medium are about $11). I have seen them at Party City, Michael’s craft store, Kroger, Amazon, Claire’s & The Learning Express. If you want to help us you can send Beanie Boos to us (705 Cheswich Overlook SE, Marietta, GA 30067) or send money via PayPal.com/heartkisses. We would like to have them collected no later than July 24. And finally, you may make any additional donation to Emery’s Fund in honor of her birthday at www.heartkisses.org.

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Shirts For Sale (this time I really mean it)

original 3:4 sleeve

We are printing more t-shirts for Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts. If you’d like to buy one you can simply use this link and before you make the payment add in the Note field the number of shirts and sizes. They are $30 & it is a tax deductible donation. I can have them available in June. PayPal.Me/KissesforHearts/30. We truly appreciate the support & help in keeping Emery’s memory alive!

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Three long years missing our girl

Tomorrow, Sept 4, marks the day Emery died and our nightmare began. It is very difficult to wrap my mind around the fact it has been three years. How is it possible we have lived like this and without her? I know we stay busy and have had some great family trips and outings but there is never a moment we don’t wish Emery was a part of our experiences and nothing is as fun, exciting or memorable when we do it without her.

 

 

It’s been a challenging year for me, beginning a new job where no one knows our history. Sharing selectively with people what we’ve been through and always getting a response, “I don’t know how you do it”. We aren’t given a choice, I mean I guess there are options to avoid living with this reality but we get up every day, get through every day and hope that at some point in our lives it won’t be this difficult. The pain causes a numbing effect and there is still a heavy cloud of grief, we have learned to stuff it away but it is always there, just not evident to others.

I’ve been asked, “what are you going to do this year” [on Sept 4]? And I honestly don’t know, this may be the extent of it. I honestly don’t want to acknowledge it because it is so incredibly painful. Giving back to others is always the one thing that helps us get through these tough milestones. This year we’d like to raise $3,000 to support research that will help other heart transplant children and families avoid this tragic outcome.

If you would like to help honor Emery’s memory you can donate to our fund or directly to Enduring Hearts where we plan to donate the money we collect.

We have so many friends & family who support us and that is honestly “how we do it”. We couldn’t survive our nightmare without the outpouring of love we continue to receive, we are eternally grateful to you.

 

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Halloween Dining for Dollars Fundraiser

THE Mill Logo.jpg

Date & Time: Tuesday October 24 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Location: 590 Mimosa Boulevard, Roswell, GA 30075

Call for reservations: 770-817-9345

Online reservations

Please call ahead to make your reservations as we anticipate a large turn out.

You are invited to an exciting event at The Mill Kitchen & Bar in Historic Roswell to support Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts. Your overwhelming support & generosity last year enabled us to fund a family kitchen in CHOA’s cardiac step down unit and it will open this December! We continue to honor Emery’s life, build awareness of CHD and support other heart families. This year we are raising $10,000 to support two causes that benefited Emery & our family.

Emery&EmersonHalloween.JPG

Emery & Emerson Kids R Kids PreK-3 Halloween

The Mill Kitchen & Bar will generously donate 10% of the evening’s proceeds to Emery Funkhouser’s Kisses for Hearts foundation. Please help us work toward our $10,000 goal and come enjoy a great Halloween themed dinner, Emery’s favorite holiday. Come dressed in your favorite costume & bring the kids. Bonuskids eat free every Tuesday at The Mill Kitchen & Bar!

Be sure you plan to stop by the Kissy Face photo station to help us spread love for CHD patients and raise awareness for CHD research & cures.

Enduringheartslogo.png

Enduring Hearts is a local non-profit & established by a fellow heart transplant family. Enduring Hearts’ mission is to fund important and innovative research to increase the longevity of pediatric heart transplants, and improve the quality of life for transplant recipients.

kidsatheartchoa.jpg

CHOA Kids at Heart, sponsored by CHOA’s Sibley Heart Center, offers parents, families and caregivers of kids with congenital heart defects a chance to come together and share their experiences.