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The Providers: JJ Kissinger and Molly Landreth

Giving comfort to families in crisis

Author Kari Hanson

Published on: April 01, 2024

JJ Kissinger and Molly Landreth 2024 superheroes
JJ Kissinger and Molly Landreth. Photo credit: Will Austin

As a parent, few things are more terrifying than the thought of your child being diagnosed with a serious disease. For many families, in addition to the fear and stress of diagnosis and treatment, finding affordable housing close to the hospital and maintaining some sort of normalcy for their family are monumental challenges.

Two of our superheroes, JJ Kissinger and Molly Landreth, run organizations that support families during that unthinkable crisis. Led by courage and the belief that joy and connection make a brighter way for us all, Kissinger and Landreth provide light to families who too often feel swallowed by darkness.

Founded by Kissinger, The Light Collective has a mission “to create a hope-oriented community where families who have a child with cancer can build resilience and share delight.” Through monthly at-home events, known as Matchbox Day, families receive a family meal (delivered to their home) and a box containing games and activities.

Home Together, founded by Landreth, is a nonprofit creating affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families that must relocate to Seattle to access treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Home Together rents homes that are cozy, furnished and pet-friendly, and with kitchens that are stocked with basics when families arrive.

Both Kissinger and Landreth are committed to supporting families, and they value connection and community. For families dealing with childhood cancer, community can be hard to find. “Ask any parent who has a child with cancer about their experience, and they will absolutely use words like ‘isolating’ and ‘lonely’ (alongside ‘terrifying,’ ‘disorienting’ and ‘devastating on every level’),” says Kissinger. “If we can help families remember they are not alone — if we can show up as a community of strangers who are committed to their joy and flourishing, and also create opportunities for these families to make meaningful connections with one another — I think we’ve accomplished something significant.”

“These families are going through the hardest emotional and financial challenge they will likely ever face,” says Landreth. “To offer them a little slice of comfort, community and normalcy in the midst of it is incredible, and to the families, it is an absolute game changer.”

Landreth’s and Kissinger’s work is rooted in the belief that each family is unique and deserves support and resources tailored to their needs. Families dealing with a medical crisis need time to connect, to feel joy and leave stress behind, even if only for a day.

In a field that can weigh heavy, Kissinger and Landreth take time to celebrate successes. Landreth is proud that Home Together has been able to furnish and subsidize rent on eight homes, providing housing for 25 families, over the past two years. Although there is currently a waiting list (a reflection of the need in the community), Landreth looks forward to the day they can provide housing to every family that needs it. For Kissinger, success looks like families meeting through his organization and then continuing their relationship on their own, finding community and strength through shared experience, and no longer walking the challenging path alone.

It’s no surprise that Kissinger and Landreth encourage everyone to get involved with their community. “I’d encourage people to find something that matters to them locally and volunteer!” says Landreth.

Kissinger agrees that volunteers make a huge difference. He also encourages people “to show up for the people in your life who are struggling. Drop off a lasagna or a big box of cookies. Write a note to let them know they’re on your mind. No one should suffer alone.”

What book or podcast are you recommending right now?

Kissinger: “Everything Happens” podcast by Kate Bowler. She has lived through her own horrific cancer story and speaks with honesty and humor about suffering and success and all the ways we pretend we can “fix” our lives. Her motto is: “Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.”

Landreth: The podcast “We Can Do Hard Things.” They find the best guests who can tackle big ideas around mental health, well being, relationships and family, and do so with huge hearts and a great sense of humor. I also love Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ “Wiser Than Me” podcast. I’m always inspired and love that she calls her mom at the end of each episode!

How can parents teach children to repair a broken world?

Kissinger: Whatever brokenness we face in this forever-fracturing world where we live, there is real power in hunkering down into daily rituals of turning toward one another and practicing joy and rest together. People often say that hurt people hurt people. It must also be true that loved people love people.

Landreth: Lead with love.

What daily habit or routine is most important to you?

Kissinger: I know it’s all the rage to say “cold plunging,” but I’m with Olaf — I like warm hugs! If I don’t have a big old hug with each person in my family, the day just feels off.

Landreth: Talking to my son at night before we go to sleep about what we feel grateful for, or the highs and lows of our days. It opens up sweet and often surprising conversations and creates a space for meaningful connection each night.

Get to know more of our 2024 Superheroes!

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