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Mary Lyon Foundation Updates

The Need for Community

The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were uncertain and challenging for all, and Cathryn LaMontagne’s experience was no exception. In the spring of 2020, Cathryn began her days by dropping off pumped milk to her newborn daughter at Baystate Hospital in Springfield before heading to Boston with her immunocompromised toddler for check-ups with his specialist.

A few months before the March shutdown, Cathryn’s son Hunter was diagnosed with an immune system disorder leaving the family grappling with uncertainty and navigating the challenges of his medical condition. On the last day that visitors were allowed at the hospital, Cathryn gave birth to her daughter, Ivy, at only 29 weeks.

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic added an extra layer of complexity to their already tumultuous situation.  Cathryn had to navigate two uncertain healthcare crises in her home, care for her other children, and keep a roof over her family’s head – all while the world was responding to a global pandemic.

Fortunately, the community stepped up. Friends treated Cathryn’s family as their own, and community members offered support and kindness that pushed her to continue. Given the challenges of the pandemic, this support waned over time while Cathryn’s need for community support only grew. Cathryn says that this was one of the darkest times for her family. They felt abandoned and helpless, and there were whispers about her not doing enough to care for her family. Cathryn hit her breaking point as she began to fall behind on bills.

Her kids’ school nurse, Loranna Almeida, asked Cathryn if she could call the Mary Lyon Foundation on her behalf. Later that afternoon, Cathryn received a call from the Foundation’s Executive Director asking how to help.

Cathryn says that Kristen came in “like a guardian angel with boxing gloves,” and within an hour, her cell phone had service again, giving her the peace of mind that she could take care of her family in the event of a medical crisis. A propane delivery truck arrived the following day, so the family could turn on the heat again. Cathryn says these acts of kindness completely changed her life.

She still experiences hardships, but Cathryn now has peace of mind knowing she has a friend in the Mary Lyon Foundation. She hopes one day she’ll get back to her career in professional photography and maybe even transition careers to working in pediatric healthcare. Above all, Cathryn aspires to be in a financial position to help the Mary Lyon Foundation be that lifeline for families in need that she experienced.

Cathryn is grateful to the Mary Lyon Foundation for the emotional support and motivation as well as for the financial assistance. We wish Cathryn and her family the best and are lucky to call them part of our Mary Lyon Foundation family.