OPA Participates in Childhaven Campaign

OPA Participates in Childhaven Campaign

Sheila Cahill is a Surgery Scheduler at Orthopedic Physician Associates (OPA), a busy orthopedic practice located in Seattle. Scheduling surgery requires meticulous attention to detail, multi-tasking, excellent communication, and commitment to patients. Each year, Sheila parlays these skills into coordinating OPA’s annual charity event that benefits Childhaven, a local organization providing therapeutic day care for infant and child victims of abuse and neglect.

Several years ago, while living in Nevada, Sheila volunteered for a child service organization and sought a similar charity to which she could donate her time after moving to Seattle. Childhaven is a non-profit agency in King County dedicated to the mission of healing young and vulnerable victims of abuse while breaking the cycle of violence and trauma. Childhaven provides developmental therapy and individual attention to children and their families in an effort to prevent abuse and promote enduring relationships. Multiple resources are necessary for carrying out this mission, including staff, social workers, mental health counselors, and health care staff. Providing comprehensive care poses a financial and resource burden, which is alleviated by the commitment of individuals such as Sheila.

In addition to rendering the basic care and attention to Childhaven’s clientele, there are special initiatives that contribute to the children and their families. One such project is the Christmas gift drive that guarantees each child receives a toy and basic clothing, including a coat, shoes, pajamas, undergarments, etc. Many of these children have never had new toys or clothing; a new gift is beyond expectations for children who are accustomed to chaos and uncertainty.

Beginning in late October or early November, Childhaven provides Sheila with a list of enrolled children aged six months to five years, although the majority of kids are between the ages of two and five. At this point, Sheila shifts into high gear distributing flyers among her co-workers and the health care providers at Orthopedic Physician Associates, Seattle Surgery Center, Swedish Orthopedic Institute, and various service and equipment vendors, identifying each child’s name, age, clothing size and favorite book/television character or toy. Many employees “adopt” a child and purchase clothing, toys, and educational products for the child. Other employees, many of whom have similar-aged children, donate several popular toys and books for general distribution among the kids.

Some employees contribute cash, allowing Sheila, and her helpers, to purchase gifts. Ensuring that every child receives gifts and clothing requires hours of shopping and a system for tracking the purchases, as well as gift bags, wrapping tissue, ribbons, etc. Each evening, Sheila dedicates approximately three hours for coordinating these activities and turns her dining room into a temporary warehouse. Weekends are spent shopping, taking advantage of holiday sales offered by various retailers. Once shopping is completed, Sheila assembles festive bags containing each child’s gifts and then arranges delivery to Childhaven in early December.

There were approximately 68 children in 2005, the first year that Sheila began this campaign. The number of children has increased every year, with 105 children receiving gift bags in 2009. The generosity of employees at Orthopedic Physician Associates has met this increasing demand despite a sagging economy. According to Sheila, helping others is the ultimate gift and symbolizes the true meaning of holiday charity!