Monique's Place Raising the Profile of Sickle Cell Disease
By: Jaclyn Coleman| October 13, 2020
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHPM-TV) - Catherine Freeman made a promise to honor her daughter’s passing by helping others dealing with sickle cell anemia.
Freeman's daughter often got sick, starting at the age of 3 months old.
"Monique was in so much pain with sickle cell and then after she passed, I said this disease is something else," said Founder of Monique's Place Catherine Freeman. "I mean it’s very painful and I wanted to educate the community and get them out there and let them know about sickle cell, how serious it is and the affect it has on the body.”
Today, she’s keeping that promise through her foundation Monique’s place. The mission is to spread awareness, be an advocate, and support those who have been affected by the disease.
Co-founder of Monique's Place Janice Darty got involved with the organization around 2010, and says their goal is to provide a relaxing environment for sickle cell survivors through counseling, in-house tutoring, and support groups.
"This is a God send. I met Catherine some years ago and she told me about her organization, and I started to work with her on that. It started off very slow, but right now it's off the ground and it's running," said Darty. "We just need help right now."
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which there aren't enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body. That can block blood flow and oxygen to other parts of the body.
Patients affected by the disease have a reduced number of red blood cells, which results in anemia, intense pain, and fatigue.
Children with sickle cell anemia do not have learning difficulties, but fatigue and recurrent pain can influence their ability to concentrate in school. They are also more frequently absent from school compared to other children because they must attend doctors' appointments or because they are having painful episodes.
"Children can not go to school when they are in pain, so the house that we have renovating now, children and adults who are suffering with sickle cell will be able to come to the house and relax," said Darty. "We will have recliners, a game room, a computer room, all kinds of snacks for them, so that they can just relax and not worry about trying to catch up with their work because we will have retired teachers there to help them during the day."
Being the only organization of it’s kind in the hub city. Founder Catherine Freeman and Co-founder Janice Darty is looking toward the community for help in achieving their goal.
Last month, the organization held their Annual Sickle Cell Awareness Walk to help raise money for Monique's Place and bring awareness to the disease.
"It's important to have support. It doesn't matter what type of illness, you need support," said Freeman. "I just remember when my daughter Monique was sick and I had to go back and forth to Jackson. She was diagnosed at 3 months, but at 6-years-old she had a stroke. I had to take her to Jackson to the hospital sometimes twice a month just for a blood transfusion. Her blood had to be washed," she said. "Even though you have your family to support you, but still that's not enough. You need a community, you need the schools, you need everybody's help to support you."
Monique’s place is currently under renovation and plan to have a fully functional building that is a safe space for sickle cell survivors.
The organization plans to hold their annual Christmas Celebration in December to give out gifts to those dealing with sickle cell anemia.
For more details: www.facebook.com/moniquesplacesicklecell/
Contact the organization: firstname.lastname@example.org or 601-818-0003 or 601-467-8954.
To nominate someone for this Kindness in Action series, sponsored by Forrest General Hospital: email@example.com