Jacob’s Heart founder Lori Butterworth has returned to the helm of the nonprofit she started in 1998 to help children with cancer and their families.
Butterworth, a longtime Soquel resident and former high school Spanish teacher, left the Watsonville-based organization about 12 years ago to pursue another health care initiative centered on kids — the statewide Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition.
She resumed the full-time executive director position of Jacob’s Heart earlier this month when Susan Osorio, who served in the top spot for four years, retired.
Butterworth said she will focus on a seamless leadership change that continues to put families first.
Much of her work, she said, will be spent finding grants and sustainable funding for the nonprofit that serves roughly 100 families in Santa Cruz County each year.
“Now is the time to reunite and reignite and make sure this organization stays strong,” she said. “Consistent services to families have never faltered in 15 years.”
Jacob’s Heart helps families who have a child with cancer by providing them with some of the simple but important things that can make ongoing cancer treatments more bearable and affordable for the whole family.
The focus is largely on helping the patient’s parents with gas cards to drive back and forth between home and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, where most pediatric cancer treatment takes place.
A backpack full of lotion, socks, toothbrushes and pajamas is given to the parents when they have to stay overnight at the hospital while their child is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
Siblings often receive gift certificates for local restaurants to give their parents a break from cooking.
“It’s not just about the child with cancer, it’s more about the family,” Butterworth said. “It’s not about toys and games. It’s about keeping mom and dad strong.”
In addition to Jacob’s Heart and the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Butterworth created the Santa Cruz and Watsonville Youth City Councils earlier this year to introduce teens to local government and leadership.
“With Lori’s rich history with Jacob’s Heart, and the skills she has honed since its founding, we’re excited to have her leadership,” said Gloria Vasquez, co-president of the Jacob’s Heart board.
Santa Cruz Sentinel
By: Shanna McCord