Cherese Mari Laulhere loved children and giving back. Knowing that her heart held a special place for kids, Cherese’s family created the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation in her honor to support children in our community. Cherese’s dream was further realized recently with an anonymous gift amount to permanently endow the Child Life Program at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
Named in her honor, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program was developed to help make the hospital experience a more positive one for children of all ages.
“As child life specialists, our primary role is to normalize the intimidating environment of a medical setting,” says Rita Goshert, manager, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “Our team ensures that our patients adjust to hospitalization by promoting the continuity of normal, daily childhood activities, which can mean play, school work or celebrating a significant milestone like a birthday.”
Child life specialists help children cope with hospitalization in every area of the hospital, from the General Pediatrics units to the Emergency Department and even in some of the clinics where children receive follow-up care.
Cherese’s gift will strengthen the Child Life Program inside the hospital, but more importantly, her gift will help the program expand into the future Children’s Village.
When complete in 2021, the Children’s Village will be an 80,000 sq. ft., four-story building on the Miller Children’s & Women’s campus that brings all the clinic locations under one roof, allowing families to receive all the care they need in one location.
“Our team tries our best to be everywhere that our patients receive follow-up care, but since these clinics are spread throughout Long Beach, we are currently unable to be everywhere at all times,” says Rita Goshert, manager, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “With the support of Cherese, we’re going to grow our team, so there will be a dedicated child life specialist in each clinic pod in the Children’s Village.”
In the Children’s Village, child life specialists will help prepare patients for medical procedures, such as getting an x-ray or removing a cast, by using developmentally appropriate teaching materials and simulated medical equipment. By minimizing children’s stress, child life specialists promote an optimal response to medical treatments.
Each year, thousands of families receive support from the Child Life Program, and this number is expected to nearly double to 10,000 in the Children’s Village thanks to the generosity of the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation.
The Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation has been a decades-long supporter of Miller Children’s & Women’s previously making donations to support the inpatient pavilion expansion and Cherese Mari Laulhere Pediatric Intensive Care Unit among others.
“Cherese and her family have made such a difference in our community, and especially in the lives of children, which was Cherese’s passion,” says Sharon Thornton, president Miller Children’s & Women’s Foundation. “Their transformative giving is amazing. We thank them so much for being our partners, supporting our patients for so many years and for making a strong impact on the lives and health of children in our community.”