The clubhouse

Michelle’s Clubhouse ensures patientfamilies have access to the financial support they need

For many patient families treated at UPMC Children’s, a child’s hospitalization can mean adding unforeseen expenses to an already challenging family budget. Families drive long distances to receive expert care here, and parents are often forced to miss work—and miss pay—to remain at their child’s bedside. Spending hours, days, or weeks at a child’s bedside can take its toll on family resources in many different ways.

The beggining

Established in 2021 through the Michelle Paternoster Foundation for Sarcoma Research, the Michelle’s Clubhouse Fund was established to help provide patient families with funds to cover the cost of hotels, gas, parking, meals, childcare, and other incidentals associated with a child’s treatment. In a year filled with unforeseen circumstances, this support is crucial for so many families
at Children’s.

Your donation is at the heart of groundbreaking care for so many children

Even in the best of times, families in crisis come to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh seeking expert and compassionate clinical care for their precious children. Unfailingly, our dedicated hospital staff do everything in their power to provide those families with comfort, healing, and a community of people that they can count on for support.

Today, amidst much fear and uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for UPMC Children’s Hospital to not only uphold this promise, but to go above and beyond for the kids and families we serve.
Your philanthropy is the reason we can do this. It’s the reason that families can continue to count on us, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Even during a global pandemic.

One Less Worry

In 2021, the Michelle’s Club House Family Support Fund was established at UPMC Children’s through a gift from the Michelle Paternoster Foundation for Sarcoma Research. Through this generosity, our talented social work team is able to disburse funds directly to those who need it most, helping ease the financial burden families often face when their child is diagnosed with cancer.

The parents and guardians we serve have more than enough to worry about as they care for their sick child. Because you give, they can have one less worry. Whether it’s the cost of parking, hotel stays, childcare for their kids at home, or any number of other expenses, your support in Michelle’s name helps to lift some of the
burden for our families so they can focus on what really matters: helping their child heal.

We can never thank you enough for changing the lives of those we serve.

Patient Stories

Your philanthropy provides direct support to families and patients seeking cancer treatment at UPMC Children’s. Thank you for making a difference. (Please note that names and other identifying features have been changed to protect patient privacy.)


Mike and Maura were struggling with income even before their precious daughter Gwen was diagnosed with leukemia. When Gwen was admitted to UPMC Children’s for her first long term stay, her parents both wanted desperately to remain by her side during this frightening time, especially since Gwen became anxious any time her parents weren’t nearby. But Mike and Maura were concerned about affording hospital living costs while also managing their household expenses.

The family could not have been more relieved when they learned about funds available like Michelle’s Club House. Family support funds, like Michelle’s, helped to cover the cost of their in-hospital meals so that they could stay with Gwen. Their presence by her side made all the difference in her early treatments, allowing her time to get to know her
care team and gradually become less anxious in the clinical environment. Your generosity keeps families like Gwen’s together when togetherness is what they need most in the world!


As a single mom with two young sons, Cassondra was beside herself with worry when her eldest boy, Tyrel, was diagnosed with lymphoma
and referred to UPMC Children’s to begin treatment. The commute between their hometown of Edinboro and Pittsburgh began to take an
immense financial toll on the family, and one afternoon, Cassondra confided in Tyrel’s care team that she had no way to get home, as she couldn’t afford the gas money.

The Social Work team was able to draw upon family support funds for assistance, providing Cassondra with the funds she needed to cover
her gas mileage back to Edinboro. Cassondra was deeply grateful. It was a huge weight off her shoulders to know that if transportation ever posed an issue, she could always turn to the social work team for help. Tyrel getting the care and support he needs can remain his mom’s number one priority, thanks to your support. This is a precious gift, and we could not be more grateful to donors like you.


Sandy’s teenage daughter, Kristen, bravely began chemotherapy treatments for her leukemia this year, and all Sandy wanted was to be at her daughter’s side every step of the way. Unfortunately, money was already tight for their family, and Sandy realized early on that if she wanted to stay with Kristen throughout every single round of chemo, it would mean eating nearly all her meals at the hospital. This was something she just couldn’t afford.

When one of our social workers told Sandy that she could arrange to help pay for her meals through donor philanthropy, Sandy started to cry. She told our social worker that each dollar was a blessing because it gave her and Kristen the precious gift of togetherness during this difficult time.

Sandy and Kristen’s story exemplifies how little things make all the difference. The cost of a few meals may not sound like much to some people, but to Sandy and Kristen, it means the world because it keeps them together.

Help us fund the cause

and help even more people

Families appreciate your support

“All families are so appreciative of the assistance. It is difficult when you have a child that has a chronic diagnosis that often leads to hospital stays. When we are able to assist with controlled stressors, this helps families focus on their child and medical plan.”

As manager of Clinical Social Work, Kim Washington carefully stewards family support funding.