Marblehead Rotary Club brings Thanksgiving to families with sick children

Nancy Archer Gwin of Marblehead knows all too well how stressful and difficult life can be for a family with a seriously ill child, and how palliative care can help. Four years ago, her grandson, Henry, died from a brain tumor when he was just two years and nine months old. 

Marblehead Rotary Club Members Linda Sullivan and Nancy Archer Gwin (fourth and fifth from left) present some of the 25 Thanksgiving meals the club assembled for families of children in Care Dimensions’ Pediatric Palliative Care Program. Gratefully accepting the donations from Care Dimensions are Bethany Beers-Mullen, CEO Stephanie Patel, MD, Maureen Burge, Caitlin French, and Angela MacMannus.

Gwin visited her son Rob and his family at their home in London many times during Henry’s illness. Rob and his wife chose hospice for their son after he had long hospital stays and doctors determined the tumor was not treatable. Gwin was impressed by the care and support Henry and his family received from two agencies in the U.K., and she never forgot it.

When Gwin became co-president of the Marblehead Rotary Club earlier this year, she submitted ideas for community support projects that are important to her. One was to help families of children who have a serious illness. Long before her grandson’s hospice experience, she had volunteered for Hospice of the North Shore (now Care Dimensions). She called Care Dimensions, which is contracted by the state of Massachusetts to operate a pediatric palliative care program for families in Essex County. The program provides physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support for children who face a progressive, life-limiting condition, and for their families.

“I know how helpful it can be for a family with a seriously ill child to have support, and I wanted to learn how our Rotary club could bring that support to local families,” said Gwin. Pediatric Palliative Care Program Manager Maureen Burge suggested the club donate 25 Thanksgiving meals and she provided a list of needed items – everything from turkey to side dishes to dessert.

“Members of our Rotary club have been so generous with food and monetary donations,” said Gwin. She thanked Maria’s Gourmet for donating pies, Boston Yacht Club (where the Rotary club holds its meetings) for providing turkeys at cost, Marblehead Farm Direct Coop for carrots and potatoes, and Whole Foods for dinner rolls and fresh fruit. Rotarian Linda Sullivan helped assemble the Thanksgiving bags, which Gwin called “a true group effort.”

Care Dimensions staff delivered the meals to 25 families it serves in the Pediatric Palliative Care Program. 

“The families are so grateful to everyone who made this Thanksgiving a happy and memorable one,” said Burge. “Care Dimensions is thankful we were part of this event that truly represents the spirit of giving.”To learn more about Care Dimensions, visit:

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