Julie Helman has experienced the power of State of the Heart’s Care Center firsthand: in February 2015, she lost her husband, Dion, to esophageal cancer. For four days, Helman and her son Daniel, along with many friends and family members, were at his bedside until he eventually succumbed to the disease. “We had a big group of people up at the Care Center the entire time,” Helman remembers. “The nurses were always rearranging furniture to make sure someone had a place to sleep or offering blankets to everyone who wanted them. They made sure we were taken care of during our stay.”
State of the Heart Care’s Inpatient Unit, or Care Center, is located on the fourth floor of Wayne HealthCare in Greenville, Ohio. The center serves as the only inpatient unit for the entire State of the Heart service area, which spans over 15 counties in both Ohio and Indiana. The Care Center is designed for short-term care to manage acute symptoms, adjust medications, or stabilize patients of State of the Heart’s hospice program. Because of State of the Heart’s 501(c)3 nonprofit status, many of the Care Center’s amenities, such as blankets and snacks, are funded through grants or donations made by community members.
Helman was determined to make sure that the Care Center could continue to take care of other families who were in the same situation Helman and her family found themselves in. In April 2015, two months after Dion’s death and also Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month, Julie Helman decided to sell homemade cookies and donate the profits to State of the Heart. A talented baker, Helman began selling frosted sugar cookies with a purple ribbon (the symbol for esophageal cancer) in packs of six for $5 each. “In the beginning, [my son] Daniel told me to just aim for raising $1,000, but as the orders started rolling in, I knew that would be too easy,” Helman says. “So, I thought $10,000 sounded like a good amount.” After the first year of selling cookies proved to be successful, she decided to continue selling them every April until she reached $10,000.
After only three years, Julie Helman reached her goal. “I shipped orders to people in North Dakota and Texas, and my son and daughter-in-law delivered some to their friends in Pittsburgh,” Helman says. “Some of my family from out of town ordered cookies to have them delivered to the Greenville police and fire departments.”
Altogether, Helman baked 5,000 cookies between April 1 and June 15 and raised $4,300 for this year’s cookie drive. Every year, the profit has increased by about $1,000. Thanks to friends and family donating ingredients and some volunteering to help Helman bake, she was able to keep the costs of making the cookies low so she could donate all profits to State of the Heart Care. The money raised will be used to provide care for patients in the Care Center, as well as amenities for patients’ families such as snacks and toiletries.