Leveling up: A Decade of Generous Support Becomes a Lasting Legacy   

Leveling up: A Decade of Generous Support Becomes a Lasting Legacy

Jillian Lauren Gorman in the midst of flowers

March 22, 2023

Since its inception a decade ago, The Jillian Fund has raised nearly $3 million to help hundreds of families cope with the financial hardships of caring for a critically ill child. The non-profit has made direct grants to underwrite the cost of lost wages, transportation, food, medicine and more so that parents can be with children treated at Hackensack Meridian Children's Health at Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital.  

Remarkably, the Bergen County-based fund has done so with an all-volunteer team. “They’ve really created a program to help families how and when they need it,” said Amy Glazer, executive director for Children's Health at Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation. “The leadership includes some of the kindest and most altruistic people that I’ve worked with in my career. They really do care about children and their families going through a challenge.”

Now The Jillian Fund is evolving, and next year, will meld into the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, where a strong infrastructure will allow for an expansion of its mission to help families. “We’ve nurtured and grown this mission and now it will be even better. This is really taking it to the next level,” said George Gorman, founder of the fund, named for his late daughter. 

Bill McLaughlin, chairman of the board, said the group has charted a strong final year as an independent organization, with a commitment to donate $750,000 to the Children’s Hospital in Hackensack to secure the legacy of its work – and its namesake. The effort will be capped by a gala planned for The Venetian in Garfield on March 15, 2024. 

The fundraising will seed The Jillian Fund Patient Support and Navigation Program to provide for a social worker and another position to help families navigate cancer care. The program will offer psycho-social support – during and after treatment - at the pediatric oncology and intensive care units at the Children’s Hospital. The Children’s Cancer Institute Social Work Program will be renamed for The Jillian Fund and a plaque in the children’s hospital will memorialize the fund’s contributions.

The money raised also will continue financial grants for one-time expenses for families, including meals, transportation and medication. 

Jillian Lauren Gorman was diagnosed as a teenager with an aggressive form of leukemia that took her life in 2013. Her dad said he saw how important it was to be by Jillian’s side, spending nights in the hospital, through more than three years of grueling treatment that included three bone-marrow transplants, chemotherapy, a kidney transplant and dialysis. He started the fund to make sure other families had the resources to be with their critically ill children.

“I continue to be honored that we do this in Jillian’s name,” George said, describing his daughter as colorful, spiritual and strong. “She had this incredible relationship with the hospital. She touched the lives and hearts of many while she was there...and through the fund her legacy will continue.”

George lauded trustees for contributing time and money to the cause over the years. In addition to Bill, board members include Susan Quakenbush, David Quackenbush, Lisa Monica, Kimberly Caesar, Stephanie Cisne, Kevin Doyle, Robert Goldberg, Howard Haber, Bob Hay, Jackie Kaufman, Michael Kaufman, Sarah Lembo and Laurie Sofield. Event planner Jill LaMastro is working to make the gala a success.

“Each family touched by The Jillian Fund’s generosity has been given the gift of time to focus on their child” said Amy from the foundation. “As one of our largest supporters of patient assistance, The Jillian Fund has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to addressing the basic needs of our families and helping them weather the traumatic storm of childhood illness. Our team, patients and their families are eternally grateful.”

We share so much gratitude to The Jillian Fund for their support over the years and look forward to this next chapter. To learn more about how you can support Children’s Health, please contact Amy Glazer at amy.glazer@hmhn.org.

Next Steps and Resources

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