In 2002, a mother of a child with sickle cell disease became exhausted in her search for support programs for her son and her family. She identified a gap in services for children with sickle cell disease from birth to adulthood in Pittsburgh. Frustrated and feeling alone, she reached out to a few other parents, community leaders and friends for help. This became the original Board of directors with this Mom's passion, a driving force of leadership.
On September 17, 2002, the first board meeting was held. The vision was birthed out of the question,"What if? What if there was an organization that specifically met the needs of children with sickle cell disease and their families? What if this organization had a heart for education of the family and community? What if they had a burden to raise funds for research to find a cure for sickle cell disease?"
A grassroots fundraising effort began in May 2003 with a Memorial Day Sweet Potato Pie and Cheesecake sale that raised a net of $386.00, just shy of the $500.00 that was needed to file for the IRS Tax Exempt Status. A Gospel Concert followed which enabled us to start building a track record with our first program, Family Support, in collaboration with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Sickle Cell Program and Family Care Connection in Mt. Oliver. In addition to Family Support, we have added four programs; Educational Support, Learn2Swim, SMASH4Success (a wellness program) and Young Adult Transition Program (YATP). We offer annual economic support programs such as the Back2School Bash, a fun-filled day of activities where the child and their siblings receive backpacks filled with school supplies to prepare them for a successful school year.
Our organizational structure consists of three full-time staff, two contracted staff, a Public Ally Apprentice, an Urban League Mature Worker's Program Trainee and a few volunteers. Our offices are in the Mt. Washington area of Pittsburgh, but we operate our programs in various communities in the city, such as Mt. Oliver, North Side and Shadyside.