Kathleen VanDernoot transforms sadness into kindness with her nonprofit, The B Fund.
In the aftermath of tragedy, Kathleen VanDernoot has devoted herself to creating moments of kindness for others.
It could be argued that tough times test the strength of character. No one knows that more than Kathleen VanDernoot. Just hours after delivering her first child, a son, he was diagnosed with Necrotizing enterocolitis. He did not make it, and Kat and her husband would later adopt a baby boy. She gave birth to a daughter who was thought to have the disease as well—thankfully, she survived. In both cases—during those solitary times at the hospital when she and her husband, Josh, were waiting, hoping, praying—she saw other families suffering through the same thing. “It is the most powerless feeling in the world,” she says. This year will mark the fifth anniversary of The B Fund (thebfund.org), a nonprofit organization that the VanDernoots and three founding families (Penny and Dan Fireman, Jennifer and Michael Skoler, Jessica and Chuck Myers) started to help the families of chronically-ill children. Families can expect a “Be-Bag” full of essentials: notebook and pen (“To take notes when the doctors make rounds”), parking passes, meal vouchers, a blanket (“It’s the next best thing to a hug”), and help with hotel stays. So far, the B Fund has engaged 7,500 individuals and their efforts have impacted the lives of 2,000 families caring for a critically-ill child. A signature “Day of Kindness” is in the works and volunteers are being recruited now for a Halloween Drive, which is expected to raise some $40,000. Some things, however, are free: “We always welcome each family with a hand-written card,” says VanDernoot, who lives in Weston. The message is simple: “Hey, we support you.”