Where compassion meets action
In 2005, Maureen Bommer of Midland Park was fighting the insurance system for her daughter Julia, who suffered from Cerebral Palsy and a rare kidney disorder. Medicaid had cut Julia’s in-home nursing hours by 30%, and Maureen was unable to get help from other sources to pay for the services. The gap would surely be a drain on the family finances. In that moment, Maureen realized there were other families facing the same tough situations, and never one to run from a fight, she vowed to take up their collective cause.
Shortly after that battle began, Julia took a turn for the worse and passed away the day after Mother’s Day, 2005, one week shy of her 7th birthday. In lieu of flowers, Maureen and her husband Stephen asked family and friends to donate to a foundation they would start in Julia’s name to help other families caring for chronically and terminally ill children. Little did Maureen know that her idea would metamorphose into a thriving Bergen County charitable organization known as Julia’s Butterfly Foundation.
Adding to the family’s unthinkable tragedy, just five months after Julia’s death, Maureen, 42, who had been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer earlier that year, succumbed to the disease, leaving behind Stephen and four other young children, ranging in age from 9 to 2. Also grieving was an army of close friends who rallied to take up Maureen’s mission.
For members of the committee, that work is simply about keeping a promise to a friend. “What started out as a small effort in honor of a friend and her daughter, has turned into a thriving foundation,” says Callahan-Rasnake. “We are proud of the work we are doing, as we are not only fulfilling a need in the community, we are fulfilling our dear friend Maureen’s dream, one child at a time.”