After law school many years ago, Craig launched a successful talent representation career in the world of sports and entertainment so he knows talent when he sees it. ”I believe every child, no matter their circumstance, is extremely talented. It is up to us as adults to mentor them so that they believe in their truest selves. I believe their gifts will make room for their life. I consider myself blessed because I had an epiphany early on in my career that showed me that success means nothing if you don’t bother to pay attention to what is most important–God’s children. After coming home one night from volunteering our daughter Charlee just age 6 at the time while sitting next to her then three year old sister Cianna asked me the question of what if we had a place where the children and families could spend time with a family and could be loved on by them and help them heal? She said that we could help them with their gifts and talents like I have with athlete and entertainer clients in the past. Well, it wasn’t long after that question where our group decided to create such environments. We hope families adopt us and the families associated with us see us as their extended family and allow us to love and cheer them on. We hope they allow us to become igniters of their spirit, their will and their souls. I am glad that I have now become an agent for suffering children.”
For the past several years, Craig had stepped away from his professional career to volunteer with the late and great therapy dog Lucca at the high ranking Children’s Hospital Wisconsin primarily giving his time to children with grave illnesses. During the same period of time he has volunteered at St. Mary’s Cancer Center Wisconsin, Volunteers of America, the Ronald McDonald House, St. Rose Prison Ministry for Children, and privately with children with grave illnesses from his hometown Chicago. Craig has also worked with youth battling various illnesses, depression and traumatic experiences. ”In this long span, I’ve seen so much and not just on the sick and shut-in wards of hospitals but all over. Many children and families are in need of what our organization plans to give them which is love, more discovery of their purpose and who they truly are. Thanks to my daughter Charlee, the Children’s Healing House For the Arts project is the fulfillment of a life-long dream, the natural progression in my family’s vocation. We want to do a small part of God’s work here on earth.”
In addition to Craig’s experience and graduate education, he has certifications in youth work, child trauma, animal assisted therapy and creative arts therapies. He regularly attends seminars around the country which spike his own creative ideas on how to provide a sanctuary of hope to children and their families. Craig spends most of his free time with his wife Kelley, their two daughters and pursuing his hobbies in philanthropy, ministry, writing, photography, film and the arts.
Kelley McKenzie (Volunteer/Director of Nursing & Family-Time)
Kelley met her husband Craig McKenzie while she worked as an oncology nurse on the same unit at Children’s Hospital whereby Craig volunteers. Kelley has been our volunteer director of nursing. Kelley is well versed in children’s oncology and dialysis and knows first hand the mental and physical impact of families and their children who are ailing from various illnesses. “I have experienced stories to this day that both break and mend my heart. I am forever changed by working with children with illnesses and now our family’s desire is to be a blessing!” In addition to taking care of two therapy dogs and a host of therapeutic animals; Kelley devotes her time to her two loving daughters Charlee, age 11 and Cianna, age 8. Kelley is excited about possibly adopting a little girl in need, catering to all the families that we encourage and adding more therapeutic animals to visit with the children.
In Memoriam: Tara L. Kuhl (Assistant to Founder) (1979-2018)