Dagmar Obert | Balsam Hill Design Consultant

Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign: Sarah of Sarah Halstead.com

SarahHalstead.com celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Sarah, her beneficiary, and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog. 

 

For Sarah Halstead, achieving happiness in life is all about enjoying the little things no matter how good or bad they may be. A loving wife to her husband and mother to two amazing boys, Dustyn and Carsyn, Sarah makes it a point to always support her family in every way she can. And even after finding out that her two boys were diagnosed with special needs, she continues to show the same dedication in turning each day into a memorable one for her family.

Today, Sarah is an active member of Inspiration Through Art, a non-profit organization devoted to empowering other people to give back to the community and make a difference through art. She is one of many artists passionate about sharing their time and talents in order to let children around the world know that they are loved in spite of serious illnesses or life-altering disabilities. Through her skills in photography, Sarah tries to capture the little moments in life so that they can become unforgettable memories for other beautiful families such as hers.

Families for HoPE!

Sarah shares with Balsam Hill why she picked the Families for HoPE, Inc. as her charity for our Christmas in July campaign. She was introduced to the organization when her son, Carsyn, was diagnosed with Holoprosencephaly when he was almost a year old. Holoprosencephaly is a serious medical disorder where the forebrain of the embryo fails to develop into two hemispheres. This ailment leads to facial deformation. Left undiagnosed, it can cause mental retardation, epilepsy, various endocrine maladies, and even behavioral problems.  The people from Families for HoPE helped her understand her son’s condition and gave her hope. As a token of her gratitude, Sarah devotes her time and efforts in helping spread knowledge about the disease and to support other families who might be going through the same situation.

The spirit of charity is alive in Sarah Halstead and in her deeds. Hers is a story about savoring the beauty of each moment in spite of adversities. And just like Sarah, we can also do our part in sharing hope to others.

BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you? 

Sarah: My son Carsyn was diagnosed with Holoprosencephaly when he was almost a year old. I had never heard of it and the doctor didn’t give us much hope. I came across Families for HoPE, and it instilled new hope in me. Read This Entry

Dagmar Obert | Balsam Hill Design Consultant

Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign: Kristin of My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Kristin, her beneficiary and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog. 

Kristin of My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia with her Family

Kristin Salazar lives a simple but fabulous family life in San Diego with three adorable boys, two lovely dogs and a loving husband. With a love for all things DIY, Kristin decided to set up a place where she can share colorful tidbits of their suburban life and show others how they can achieve the same on a small budget. My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia is her online soapbox for all ideas regarding practical and functional home maintenance. She hopes that the slices of her life she shares can inspire and help people achieve stylish and beautiful spaces they can call home.

A dedicated mother and loving wife, Kristin and her husband faced one of their darkest moments as parents when their youngest son was diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. Kawasaki Disease (KD) is the leading cause of acquired heart illnesses in children. If not treated, KD can lead to aneurysms, heart attack and death. The disease can be treated if diagnosed early. Sadly, it is sometimes misdiagnosed, like in Kristin’s case. Although her son has now completely recovered, Kristin is unrelenting in her mission to fight KD by spreading awareness about the ailment. She hopes that her son’s miracle will give hope to others facing the same battle and that her family’s own experiences with KD will help them prevent its dangerous effects. Currently, Grayson is in a KD study to help medical professionals better understand the sickness and to help promote effective diagnosis and treatment.

The Kawasaki Disease Foundation (KDF)

In line with Kristin’s goal of spreading awareness regarding her son’s previous condition,  she has decided to support the Kawasaki Disease Foundation (KDF) for Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign. The KDF is a non-profit organization, and the only one dedicated exclusively to addressing issues related to the illness. As a by-product of the highly successful Kawasaki Disease Parent’s Education Symposium, it represents a true collaboration of parents and medical professionals. The board of directors comprises parents of children who have faced the ailment. Recognized Kawasaki Disease experts and other parents from around the United States also contribute a significant amount of time and effort to support the organization.

BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you?

Kristin: I have chosen to support the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. As a mother, you know when something just isn’t right with your child. It actually comes the day you give birth; this motherly instinct.  When our youngest, Grayson, became sick in March of 2013 with high fevers, swollen glands and joint pain, I knew something was not right. Over a week’s time, we were turned away by doctors. Our son was misdiagnosed and was given antibiotics, but nothing was making him better. He only continued to get worse.  After receiving a call from a friend who saw my posts on FB, and whose son had been diagnosed with Kawasaki too, she told us to go back to the children’s hospital. She said that she will alert the KD specialist. I rushed him back, held him up to the window and begged for someone to take him. By this time, his fever was 107 and he was slowly slipping away. He was rushed back in. He met with specialists and was given the correct diagnosis. This happened 9 days after he first became sick. There is only a 10 day window in which you can get treatment in order to save the child’s heart.

As frightening as it was, it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis and start his IVIG treatment.  Grayson was touch and go and we were rushed to ICU were he stayed for 3 days. Once the second dose of IVIG, steroids and Remicade infusions stabilized him, we were moved out of the ICU. We watched vigilantly as Grayson got better every day.  A year later, Grayson is healthy and happy. Hos coronary arteries are back to the normal size. He did not suffer from any aneurysms or heart attacks. He is extremely fortunate!

I hope that, in addition, to raising money to help fund the diagnostic test for KD, that someone can eventually figure out a definitive cause, prevention procedures and a cure to this ailment in the near future. Read This Entry

Dagmar Obert | Balsam Hill Design Consultant

Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign: Fadra of All Things Fadra

All Things Fadra celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Fadra, her beneficiary, and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog.Fadra and her adorable dog

After years in the research, teaching, travel, software, and marketing professions, Fadra Nally found herself in 2009 as a blogger. As it turns out, she had a passion for storytelling—be it “mom stories” or tales about her travels and other experiences. What matters to Fadra is that the accounts found on her blog All Things Fadra inspire readers and make them come back for more. She does not consider herself a mommy blogger, but will take no offense if she is referred to as one. Personally, Fadra is a wife, mother, writer, blogger, marketer, explorer, do-gooder, and lover of life.

Fadra’s love of life encompasses all living things, especially animals. Just recently, during one Friday night in March, Fadra lost one of her dearest companions—Emma, her pet poodle. Emma was a breeder from a puppy mill that had cast her aside due to her old age. Like Fadra, Emma found herself out of a “job,” out of the world she used to know. This is the common ground which allowed them to bond.

Many are not aware of the challenges faced by a puppy mill dog. When Fadra took Emma home, the poor creature did not know how to play, go for a walk or behave around other dogs. Fadra also had to help Emma deal with a cataract in one eye, anxiety and having no teeth. Emma was also a runner and had a habit of peeing everywhere. Despite these, Fadra was adamant to prove that no dog should ever be cast aside and treated like a commodity.

The Humane Society of the United States

To curb her grief from Emma’s passing, Fadra has lobbied in North Carolina against puppy mills. She also pushed for a legislation that would require licensing and regulation for the industry. She continues with this mission until today. For Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Charity Campaign, Fadra has decided to give her support to The Humane Society of the United States. In honor of Emma, Fadra also urges everyone to adopt a second-chance pet instead of buying one from puppy mills or pet stores.

For more information on how to find the right dog for you and how to get involved in the fight against the vicious cycle perpetuated by puppy mills, please visit the puppy mill section of the Humane Society of the United States.

BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you?

Fadra: With charities, it’s sometimes difficult to discern between those that talk the talk and those that walk the walk. While I try to open my checkbook when I can, I have a strong affinity for charities that want more than just your donation. With my chosen charity, The Humane Society of the United States, I’ve been able to have firsthand experience with my state legislators lobbying for bills I believe in that will help improve the lives of animals. They’ve helped me walk the walk. Read This Entry

Dagmar Obert | Balsam Hill Design Consultant

Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Campaign: Erica of Let Why Lead

Let Why Lead celebrates Christmas in July by raising money for charity. Get to know Erica, her beneficiary and her answers to our questions about the virtues of generosity and compassion with this post from the Balsam Hill blog.  

Erica of Let Why Lead

If you’re looking for living proof of the adage “opposites attract,” Erica Neilsen is the quintessential example. Happily married to her “opposite in more ways than one,” Erica is a loving mother of three young children ages six, four and one. Her blog Let Why Lead shows readers that it’s all right to have big dreams and to pursue them. Erica herself dreams of someday writing a book on family life. And she always keeps an open mind so that she will continue to learn through her blog. She believes that Let Why Lead can help others learn about life and also help her gain insight through meaningful interactions with her readers.

The name of Erica’s blog stems from her belief that why you live should determine how you live. Focusing on one’s deepest intentions help put focus on what really matters. It also relieves the pressure of trying to do everything at once. It helps in letting go of the things that, in retrospect, don’t really matter at all. For now, her goal is to build a family that is filled to the brim with love, while seeing the beauty in everyday things. Erica aims to empower women by helping them believe that their best is good enough and by showing them how she has become the “purpose-driven wife.”

Mothers Without Borders

For Balsam Hill’s Christmas in July Charity Campaign, Erica has chosen to support Mothers Without Borders. This organization has worked tirelessly to provide love, care, and support to orphans around the world, and now Erica joins them to continue that beautiful and important works. It is a worthy endeavor, one that is important especially in this time when more and more kids need all the guidance in the world.

BH: Could you tell us a bit about the cause you’re supporting and what it means to you?

Erica: What I love most about Mothers Without Borders is that in addition to the other work they do in Zambia, Africa, they house 22 orphans in a family setting. Ten years ago this month, I volunteered in Zambia with MWB. Their mission was to contribute sustainable solutions to the global orphan crisis. So I’ve sat on these children’s beds and I’ve watched them sing and dance on a dusty porch in the setting sun. Children who had almost nothing before coming into the home have found themselves with a family and a new sense of belonging. Read This Entry