October 25, 2014

Medina
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Medina woman finds way to help family members when child is sick

MEDINA — A local woman’s family has teamed up to help her spread cheer to sick children this holiday season.

Gretchen Naumoff is a consultant with Creative Memories and each year her clients help by donating scrapbooks for children at Akron Children’s Hospital. This year, she wanted to extend the Christmas cheer to families, especially the siblings who often go to all the doctor and hospital visits.

Brett Hubeny, 6, a student at Buckeye Elementary School, receives a scrapbook from Eric Haneberg and his sister, Gretchen Naumoff (not pictured) during a visit earlier this fall at Akron Children’s Hospital. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Naumoff said the inspiration came from her sister-in-law, Hallie Haneberg, who lost her brother Todd to leukemia.

“She said to me, ‘I can’t tell you how proud I am that you’re doing this because I would have loved to do this with Todd. We never had anything to do,’ ” Naumoff said.

Naumoff then got the idea to get books for all the kids in every family being treated at Akron Children’s Hospital during the holiday season.

“I had never thought about doing something for all the siblings that are there,” she said.
The Simply Said “Dream Big” memory books allow children to add their own hopes, wishes and dreams.

“It’s geared toward younger kids, and there’s space for pictures, and it asks them questions like ‘if you could give someone a million dollars, who would it be and why,’ ” Naumoff said.

Other pages have questions such as “If I could spend one day doing anything I wanted I would do …” and a place to list “Things I’ve learned in life so far.”

Naumoff’s customers have the option to purchase the books for donation along with their regular orders starting in September, but Naumoff, who works in Medina and serves customers here and in Summit County, said many customers called her up this year simply to make a donation.

“I had lots of people call to buy five for donation and didn’t get anything for themselves,” she said.

To help get the books out to all the children and their siblings, Naumoff’s brother, Eric Haneberg, volunteered to make a donation of 50 books, bringing her total number of scrapbooks to 290.

“We have enough to give them to every kid and their siblings in Akron Children’s Hospital,” she said.

Naumoff said she hopes the donation helps families take the time to enjoy putting the books together.

“A lot of parents in that position haven’t thought to do this with their kids,” she said.
“They’re not thinking about journaling with them or asking simple silly questions. They’re thinking about his next treatment and how uncomfortable he might be.”

Brett Hubeny, 6, a student at Buckeye Elementary School, recently received a “Dream Big” scrapbook from Naumoff and Haneberg.

Brett is undergoing treatment for leukemia and received the book earlier this fall. Naumoff said they dropped the book off to him early during treatment because he was determined to not be in the hospital during the Christmas season. Right now, Brett is home with his family.

Brett’s mother, Kariann, said it’s tough to get through the book while Brett receives treatment, but a nice gift.

“I would think most parents would like it,” she said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.