Soon-to-be graduate works wonders for families of sick children
April 7, 2014 | Bryce Wilks
The student in Kassie Sanchez has one finish line in sight. After a few years of balancing schoolwork with career and family, she’ll cross it May 2 when she receives her Management degree from Evangel’s Adult Studies program.
But the professional worker in Sanchez can’t count on as clear of a path. As director of special projects and office manager for the CoxHealth branch of Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), she walks an unpredictable road of helping families care for their sick children.
CMN of CoxHealth, one of 170 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, offers financial assistance to families facing medical issues with children in a 32-county area in Missouri and Arkansas.
Sanchez is the face of many of her office’s efforts as the first person families contact. Over the past two years, she’s helped more than 700 families in the midst of medical and financial battles by processing their applications and determining their eligibility for financial awards.
“As the front line of our office, I get to be a pillar of strength for families who are going through some of the most challenging hardships of their lives,” Sanchez says. “It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I may have played even a small part in making their journeys a little bit easier.”
The most frequent requests are for medical bills, travel costs for distant appointments and pieces of medical equipment that aren’t covered by insurance.
“Families of sick children have a lot on their plates, and the last thing they should have to worry about is how to pay for treatments,” Sanchez says. “CMN relieves some of the stress from their burdens and there is no greater feeling than being part of that.”
When Sanchez isn’t directly assisting families, she’s planning events through CMN’s various partnerships. Annually, there’s a 24-hour telethon on NBC affiliate KYTV, a visit from the St. Louis Cardinals Caravan and a “Scramble for Miracles Golf Tournament” that make up a portion of the fundraising calendar.
Balancing her complex job requirements is what led Sanchez to Evangel’s Adult Studies program. The flexibility is essential for working professionals looking to advance their education.
Courses meet one night per week to provide convenience for those with busy schedules. Beyond that, the programs demonstrate an atmosphere that is committed to blending students’ personal faith into their careers.
“The professors have shown me that my faith and career in the business world can go hand in hand,” Sanchez says. “Contrary to what I believed before, our faith doesn’t have to be separated from our work lives.”
And that’s an important principle for Sanchez, whose close ties to her clients can result in painful situations.
“It’s inevitable that there will be times of death and sadness when dealing with sick children,” Sanchez says. “As I build relationships with families, watching their struggles never gets easier for me.”
With a chapter of her own life coming to an end, Sanchez knows that this journey was never just about receiving a diploma at graduation.
“My courses and professors at Evangel have helped me realize what my purpose is,” Sanchez says. “And I’ve learned how important it is to channel all of my efforts, time and energy towards that ultimate purpose.”