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New Director Takes Over at Kolbe Fund

Founded so one family of a sick child could help others with the same needs, the Exton-based charity has hired Jayme Gittings to take it to the next level.

For Kate and Aaron Schnittman, the Kolbe Fund was a way to turn a personal experience into a gift for other families going through the same thing. Four years later, the family is preparing to move overseas — and has hired a new executive director to take the charity to the next level.


When their son was diagnosed with a rare pituitary tumor at age 4, surgery saved his life, but his treatment required multiple trips to and from Boston. Close friends of the Schnittmans raised money to cover those costs, but the experience inspired the couple to start the Kolbe Fund, to offer lodging and other forms of support for families who must travel for pediatric medical care.


Since then, the nonprofit has helped hundreds of families get through tough times as they seek pediatric medical care. Every month, the organization provides between 40 and 70 nights of lodging for families during their travels through partnerships with children’s hospitals and hotels across the country. In addition, they provide funds to pay for food, transportation, gas, and parking, as well as “Kolbe Kits” —  care packages full of useful items assembled and delivered to recipients by local businesses.


The charity has grown rapidly, which is where Jayme Gittings comes in. A Coatesville mom with a long history working in development, Gittings also has personal experience with a child’s medical crisis: her own son, now 4,  was born with a rare congenital heart condition. She co-founded Philly Heart Moms, a nationwide online support community for moms seeking pediatric cardiac care in Philadelphia.  


“We are proud of the significant growth of the organization and are excited to see what the future holds for Kolbe in the very capable hands of Jayme Gittings,” Kate Schnittman, who has been the fund’s executive director, said in a press release. (Schnittman was a Main Line Parent Community Builder grant recipient in 2015; click here to read more.)


“Jayme’s extensive knowledge of nonprofit development, particularly in Greater Philadelphia, combined with her honest compassion and enthusiasm, made her the ideal candidate to lead Kolbe forward.”


“Tough questions and tougher answers abound in caring for uniquely ill children, and often the help they need is challenging,” Gittings said. “The Kolbe Fund offers direct, practical support in a way that transforms the experience of families who must travel to ensure the very best medical treatment for their child. Not only does it make sense, it’s the right thing to do.”


Some of Gittings’ immediate goals  include expanding the organization’s reach, improving on their ability to identify and connect with families in need in a timely way, and increase the number of families receiving help with lodging.


“The cost of travel is an issue of health parity,” Gittings said. “Seeking a second opinion or specialized care at a distant facility is often impossible for families of low or modest incomes, especially when paired with escalating co-pays and health insurance costs. By helping reduce or eliminate this burden, Kolbe allows families to access the best care … not simply the closest.”


Photograph courtesy of the Kolbe Fund. 


Contributing Writer


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