FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The community health system understands the importance of going above and beyond for patients and families, and one local nonprofit is helping provide support to Valley families.

Valley 4X4 for kids is a nonprofit based out of Visalia developed to help children in need by organizing fundraisers and donations for local hospitals.

“We started talking about it, and she was telling me about all the needs that the pediatric department could use,” said Jamie Ishisaka, a liaison for Valley 4X4.

Jamie met Pilar Montoya, a community regional pediatric nurse supervisor on a hike. Pilar noticed the nonprofit logo on Jamie’s car and asked what it was.

“As we started having more conversations just about what it was and about where I worked and what we did for the pediatric population in the Valley, he became more interested,” Pilar said.

“Even though we are heavily an adult hospital, we do serve a lot of pediatrics throughout the Central Valley,” said Rosie Rufo, a Child Life Specialist. 

Rosie Rufo is a child life specialist at Community Regional working with pediatric patients and their families

“I got reached out by Pilar, our clinical pediatric supervisor nurse, and she informed me that there is a donor who’s happy to help and provide Heartbeat Bears for our pediatric and child life department,” she said. 

Heartbeat Bears are a tool used by child life specialists to start the grieving process for families after they lose a child.

“The child-life specialist has the ability to record the sound of their family’s heartbeat,” said Pilar.

“It allows us to offer families a comfort item, something tangible for the bereaved families, who unfortunately do lose children here at the hospital; to represent a heartbeat recording of their loved one that they can keep forever, so we can promote family-centered care here at our hospital,” said Rufo. 

In early 2023, the Central Valley experienced heavy rains that destroyed all of the hospital’s remaining heartbeat bears. That’s when Valley 4X4 saw a need and wanted to help with a “Valley Gift.”

“The Valley Gift is a specific gift that is just given for what they specifically need like the heartbeat bears,” said Jamie.

Because of organizations like these, Community Health System can provide comfort for patients and their families after they go home.

 “CRMC never turns away any children. No matter where you come from, what your circumstances is, insurance; none of that is ever a factor when they come to our doorstep,” said Pilar 

Valley 4X4 says their recent donation to the community regional is just the start of how they hope to continue helping the valley.

“We set a goal for 250 bears. So, we are going to give 200 bears to the hospital, 50 to Terry’s House, and then plus the traditional toy drive, which we are going to all in the first weekend in December,” said Jamie.