Some people see problems, others find solutions. Kate Zajac, a CSTS client, is not a stranger to problems, yet has chosen a different path, one which works to meet others needs. Inspired by a conversation with a friend, who subsequently lost her battle with depression, Zajac began a nonprofit called The Little Engine That Could. ‘Little Engine’, as Zajac often refers to it as, is an organization that strives to meet the recreational needs of children receiving care in hospital psychiatric units.
Since its inception in March 2011, Zajac has established relationships with eight hospitals across the country, provided 70 children with presents, collaborated with a variety of businesses and filed for 501c3 status, as well as sent packages filled with games, puzzles and treats to children in the various hospitals. Co-founder and Volunteer Coordinator of Great Commission Air, Jennifer Rice, calls Zajac, “ one of the most dedicated, diligent, hard-working, insightful, idea-generating volunteers that Great Commission Air has ever had…I have met only a few people in my life that have been as dependable as you, Kate.”
It is no wonder that hospitals, including University of Michigan, are coming to depend on The Little Engine That Could for much needed support. From soliciting a donation from Damon’s for a free meal to delivering holiday treats, Zajac has proven her commitment to making the lives of their patients better. An Activities Director in Boston’s Childrens Hospital of Massachusetts whom Zajac contacted to establish a relationship actually shed tears upon hearing about her desire to donate supplies. Such is the need and appreciation for the work that she is doing. “Kids with physical illnesses, get a lot of support from the community, but kids with mental illnesses are often forgotten. I think that people care, but don’t know how to express it,” says Zajac who plans to expand her operations to ten hospitals by the end of 2013 and to 25 hospitals by 2017.
So, what can we do to support Zajac and The Little Engine That Could? Visit her website, http://www.thelittleenginethatcould.org to volunteer, make a donation, and/or attend an upcoming fundraising event. Zajac says, “It is the donors and volunteers that make it possible for the Little Engine That Could to do what it does. We can’t do it alone.”