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.

Boston Common - - CONTENTS - By Lisa Pier­pont Pho­tog­ra­phy by Conor Do­herty

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.”

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