I met Joanne Tarling a few years ago before I even heard of Charlotte’s Wings. Our daughters have played together while we chat about OCM and other mom stuff. Joanne is a sweet person and a loving mother. When she told me the story about her daughter Charlotte, I could not believe it. You never imagine this to happen to anyone so close to home and in your community.
Charlotte was five months old when she passed away from a rare and incurable brain disease called Alexander’s Disease. There have only been 500 reported cases of Alexander’s Disease worldwide.
After this unimaginable tragedy, Joanne and her family persevered through this painful experience, and managed to spread hope to others in the process. To honor Charlotte’s memory, her parents looked for an opportunity to assist other children facing illness. With help from their good friend, Jennifer Buck, they decided to start Charlotte’s Wings.
Charlotte’s Wings is a tax exempt, non-profit organization founded in March 2008 that is dedicated to supporting ailing children in Southeast Michigan through donations of new books to the children and their families in hospital and hospice care. By giving books, Charlotte’s Wings endeavors to bring sick children a smile, a dream, or an escape from an unfortunate reality. Whether a child is facing something as benign as tonsillitis or as severe as a terminal disease, a book can provide encouragement and comfort to a sick child during a challenging and frightening period.
I interviewed Joanne recently to talk about how much Charlotte’s Wings has grown and to ask her about future plans…
Joanne Tarling: “There’s been so much growth I don’t even know where to start. We started off working with three hospitals and a hospice, and we supplied them with books for their in-house libraries. It’s been incredible…Now, we work with hospitals and all the major hospices all across the state from Grand Rapids to Traverse City to Petoskey to Bay City to Ann Arbor. We’re also working in all different avenues we never expected to work in… well visits, clinics, we’ve funded three pediatric reference libraries from scratch that parents and patients can use as a resource to help them understand what they are going through.
We’ve now set ourselves an ambitious goal. Our goal that we’re striving for now in our mission statement, is we’d like to work specifically with all hospices across Michigan and put in the hands of every family three key titles of their choice. We want to touch the lives of every family of every child who is going through pediatric hospice care. We feel like that is something that is such a calling to us. It was such a blessing when Charlotte was sick.”
Charlotte’s Wings has an all new website that is very useful and includes a live counter for books donated! To find out more about Charlotte’s Wings, please go to www.charlottes-wings.com/ or look them up on Facebook.
books donated so far: 11,592