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The Emotional Impact Of Fundraising

Retired teacher Bob Wollenberg received a double lung transplant on February 19, 2016. During his 36 years as a public school teacher, drama director and coach in Boyne City, Michigan, Bob made a difference in the lives of countless children and young adults. When his family began fundraising with HelpHOPELive in December 2015, his community finally had the opportunity to give back to the man who had given them so much. Bob explains how accepting community support has impacted his life.

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“You were a guiding influence, and I thank you for that.” -Former Student


I always tried to treat my students as individuals, not just as another student in a class. Now, they are paying it forward to me.


“Thank you for your years of dedication to the community and to the children of Boyne City.” -Community Member


There is no way that my wife, Jackie, and I could have weathered the storm of bills without my friends and past students helping out. There are so many hidden costs that insurance doesn’t cover. I live in northern Michigan; driving down to Chicago to take part in a specific lung transplant program is crucial to help me maintain my health and secure a transplant. The mileage, gas and travel costs alone for those trips are a huge expense. My HelpHOPELive campaign is helping me pay for all of this!


“I am forever grateful to B.W. for inspiring me to become a more creative, confident and dynamic person.” -Former Student


My donors have helped both monetarily and emotionally–community support has become a huge part of my lung transplant journey. I have heard from so many past students. It’s incredible. Some of my HelpHOPELive contributors go all the way back to 1972 when I first started teaching and coaching. I keep thinking about the number of times I gave students lunch money because I knew they didn’t have any and would skip lunch without it. As much as I could, I helped. Now, those same students are “buying my lunch,” so to speak. We have helped each other.


“I have fantastic memories of my time as your student.” -Former Student


My online donation page helped me to communicate with all my donors. Reading guestbook comments on my HelpHOPELive page, especially comments from my former students, has been a heartwarming experience. You never really know how much you impact a student until years later when you hear from them. It just makes your teaching career worth it in every respect. Many friends and students wrote in and I was able to write updates on my page to respond to their comments. My HelpHOPELive campaign is clear, easy to use and just what I needed.


“This man changed my life and showed me parts of the world that I might never have seen without him. He gave us his all.” -Former Student


One of my top literature students from the past, who became a professional writer, sold a copy of “To Kill A Mockingbird” that he had signed and donated the money (to HelpHOPELive) in my honor. He said, “I owe my writing and love of literature to Mr. Wo.” How wonderful is that!


“You gave a small town girl a chance to experience culture and a safe place to be herself. This is the least I can do for you.” -Former Student


At first, I was reluctant to ask for help. I thought people would look down on me for asking. I was totally wrong. My community has been incredible. They have supported me in such a big way. When I was feeling uneasy about asking for help, someone in my community said to me, “If I needed help, would you help me in any way you could afford?” My answer was, “Of course.” I had not looked at it from his perspective until then. I absolutely suggest working with HelpHOPELive and getting in touch with people in your home community.


Bob and his family fundraise with HelpHOPELive for travel, relocation, co-pays, lab costs and other transplant-related expenses. Want to rally your own community to fundraise for your medical and related expenses? Start your own fundraising journey today.

Coming Home For The Holidays

At HelpHOPELive, the holidays have always represented a few key things to us, including community, hope and home. For many families, the holiday season represents new beginnings or the conclusion of one journey as a new adventure or challenge begins. That’s why we were so pleased to find the uplifting artwork created by Thomas Swanston, artist and husband of paralyzed artist Gail Foster.

Artists Gail Foster and Thomas Swanston

Artists Gail Foster and Thomas Swanston

Tom’s work is inspired and informed by his perception of home and healing. “For me and my wife, the holidays are a hectic time that have often included hospitals, “ said Tom. “Gail has come a long way, so our holiday will be filled with more gratitude than ever before.” Tom frequently touches on the theme of migration in his work. As he described it, “”Migrations remind us of nature’s ability to renew and revive itself… Such is also the human life.” Here are a few more of Tom’s reflections on that physical and emotional journey:

“Migration speaks to the mystic movement through space and time, from one location to another and the ultimate return home.”

Thomas Swanston

“The recurring patterns…remind us of nature’s ability to renew and revive itself, rhythmically changing, yet remaining stable and consistent through the seasons.”

Thomas Swanston

“Like migratory birds, physical and spiritual travelers alike explore new or familiar places, always to return to the one special locale they call ‘home.’”

Thomas Swanston

“All journeys have a purpose and an end, no matter how long they might be or how far away from home they may take us. We don’t just hope something will happen, we put one foot in front of the other every day.”

Thomas Swanston

Tom has graciously allowed HelpHOPELive to incorporate his artwork into our limited edition holiday card for our most loyal and generous donors who represent the Kolff Society. “Working with HelpHOPELive has provided us with the opportunity to raise funds for Gail’s personal care, insurance premiums, uncovered medications and a whole host of other expenses related to her health that have, up until now, been beyond our capabilities,” said Tom. “I always like to contribute to worthy causes and HelpHOPELive certainly fits that bill.”


For Tom and Gail, art is a way of life. The two own StudioSwan in Atlanta, a gallery that showcases their vast range of artistic talents.