The Hannah Peretsman Breene Foundation was established in memory of a wonderful girl. Hannah died of cancer at age 16 in April of 2004. She was an honor student in high school, a theater buff, an aspiring chef and an avid reader. She was also strongly committed to community service. She was a junior volunteer at St. Barnabas Hospital, in Livingston,NJ, where she herself received most of her own treatment. She was also an active volunteer at a community food bank and an interfaith homeless coalition. Initially motivated by a 10 hour community service requirement at her high school, Hannah performed in excess of 75 hours of community service in 2002-03 while undergoing rigorous cancer treatments and continuing full-time in school.
The Foundation has been established to honor her interest in helping others. As its initial project, the Foundation focused its efforts on assisting and supporting the Child Life Program at St. Barnabas. Before the Foundation started its work in the fall of 2004, no activities were planned and the playroom was often locked and inaccessible to patients during the evening and on weekends.
We have recruited and trained teen and adult volunteers to serve on evenings and weekends. Since November 2004, hundreds of volunteers, adults and teens, including friends of Hannah’s, have given their time on a regular basis. Our volunteers supervise activities, and interact with patients in a friendly, supportive way. Each year, our volunteers have provided over 1500 hours of organized games, crafts, cooking and other fun for young patients on evenings and weekends.
The Foundation uses funds that have been donated by friends, relatives, business associates, and classmates, as well as Hannah’s own college savings, to purchase the supplies and equipment for the activities that have been planned.
It is the overall mission of the Hannah Peretsman Breene Foundation to add a little bit of fun and distraction to childrens’ hospital stays. Based upon Hannah’s experience with many years of such hospitalizations, we believe strongly that the Foundation’s provision of interesting and varied activities for kids during their hospital stays will make those stays more enjoyable and, as a result, will make a difference in the patients’ outlook. Doctors, nurses, patients and their parents have been very enthusiastic and appreciative of the program that is organized, funded and run by the Hannah Peretsman Breene Foundation.