Roberto Receives an Alyssa Starter Art Kit at AbilityLab

In March 2019, the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) received a special note from a single dad named Roberto Gonzalez who lives in Chicago. Roberto wrote to let us know the impact an Alyssa Starter Art Kit (SAK) had on his life. Roberto told us he has one boy and three teenage girls and feels blessed to have his children. He expressed his condolences for our loss of Alyssa. We know, however, that Alyssa has impacted his life forever since he received one of Alyssa’s SAKs.

Roberto was hospitalized for several weeks with 3 broken limbs and felt useless until one day when, as he said, “I rolled into my room and there was Alyssa’s Art Kit”. He told us the only good limb he had was his drawing hand and he started drawing that same day. It gave him hope for his situation and a deeper appreciation for his family.

The mission of AAFH is to give hope and provide an outlet for creative expression through art and music and this is exactly what was experienced by Roberto on March 16, 2019, while he was at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Chicago’s premier rehabilitation center. Alyssa was admitted there back in 2014 and is a place the Alvin family will always remember for their attentive care.

And on another note of coming full circle and life’s mysteries, it was only last year that Alyssa’s cousins, Daniel and Alexis Guerrero, had made a delivery of Alyssa’s SAKs to the AbilityLab which ultimately landed with Roberto. We wish Roberto, his family and fellow patients all the best of health.

A photo of his special note is shown below and it provides a true testament of how Alyssa’s inspiration continues to bring family, friends and others interested in helping people together in her memory.



Deliveries of Alyssa SAKS and an Art Night in Oak Lawn, IL

The Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) delivered Alyssa Starter Art Kits to both Advocate Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn, IL on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Each facility received 50 Alyssa Starter Art Kits of various types including journals, drawing paper, watercolors and acrylic painting kits as well as erasable lunch bags. Jenna, the Evening House Manager at RMH, was happy to receive these Alyssa Starter Art Kits from our Foundation and we are always happy to see her.

At the Art event, we provided Easter eggs made of plaster for decorating with paints and markers. We had participation from young parents who were dealing with serious health issues of newborns. Other participants were siblings of a seriously ill newborn. This fact was a reminder to us that entire families of all ages and generations are impacted when one of their loved ones is facing life-threatening health issues. The creative outlet that our Art Night provides is welcoming and impactful event for them.

There were plenty of shared stories and smiles as each of the participants did the detailed work of coloring their eggs. We are grateful to encourage the joy of art and music that Alyssa had and spread the mission of AAFH!


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Gift of Art for Connor

On a Spring day on March 20, 2019 Connor sat patiently in the Ronald McDonald House living area on the first floor as he waited for AAFH Executive Board members- Carmen Ziegler and Yoli Alvin. Angela, Connor’s mom mentioned to Connor after his dinner that he would have visitors from AAFH. Connor smiled at her and became excited because he had submitted his Gift Request via our website immediately following the Music Night held at RMH a week before.

As soon as Yoli walked into the RMH lobby, she saw Connor smiling and walking towards her to help with the fully loaded art bag she was carrying.

Connor is going to be 10 in a few months and was diagnosed with Craniopharyngioma on January 15, 2019. He is in 3rd grade and lives in Zion, IL with his family. He is currently receiving treatment at the Proton Center in Warrenville, IL and staying at RMH near Central DuPage Hospital. During the Music Night held at this RMH on March 13th, Connor heard about AAFH and the art/music gift program we offered. Connor could not wait to fill out his gift request form.

Connor loves drawing sunsets and superheroes. He also likes bowling and enjoys watching the Green Bay Packers during the football season.

Connor drew a Frankenstein during the Music Night and is pictured with Yoli and his mom, Angela.

We are grateful to present Connor with his gift of professional art materials in Alyssa’s memory.

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Alyssa SAK Delivery to Comer Children’s & University of Chicago Medicine

100 Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) were delivered to Comer Children’s Hospital & University of Chicago Medicine in Hyde Park on Monday, March 11, 2019. The SAKs were received by Hailey Plote, Child Life Assistant who is the newest member of the Child Life Department and a college student.

Amy, Child Life Specialist at Comer Children’s Hospital, told us they are excited to receive more of Alyssa SAKs as they are very well received by the teens and young adult patients. The University of Chicago hospital has an Adolescent and Young Adults (AYA) Program and it focuses on working with teens and adults between the ages of 13 to 31 and is excited to give the young adult patients there some of Alyssa SAKs. Amy said, “both of these medical institutions will benefit from the starter art kits. Each facility received 50 Alyssa SAKs which included journals, adult coloring books, drawing, watercolor and acrylic kits.

We thank Comer Children’s Hospital and the University of Chicago Hospital for giving us the opportunity to share Alyssa’s love of art with patients at these hospitals and promoting the art and music programs offered by Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope!



SAKS Delivery to Advocate Children’s Hospital - Park Ridge Campus

50 Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) were delivered to the Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, IL on Sunday, March 10, 2019. Beth and Kate, both Art Therapists, took receipt of five different kinds of Alyssa SAKs-acrylics, watercolors, adult coloring books, drawing and journal kits. These art materials will enable the young patients to express their creativity in a joyful manner while undergoing treatment for their illnesses.

We are thankful for the opportunity to share Alyssa’s love for the arts with young patients being treated in the Park Ridge Campus of the Advocate Children’s Hospital.



Eaden Happy with His Professional Art Package

Eaden is a 10-year old boy who lives with his family in Chicago, IL. Eaden was diagnosed in October 2018 with craniopharyngioma and is being treated at Northwestern Chicago Proton Center in Warrenville, IL.

We met Eaden when he participated in Art Night at Ronald McDonald House near Central DuPage Hospital on Monday, February 11, 2019. Some of the things Eaden likes to do include painting and working with clay. Eaden wants to learn art techniques and Fadia-Eaden’s Mom mentioned to us that she will be helping Eaden explore other art mediums and also participating in art projects with him.

On Wednesday, February 20th, Yoli visited Eaden at RMH to deliver his professional art supplies. Eaden was on the second floor while Yoli arranged all his art materials on a table in the main gathering room. Eaden told his mom he wanted to go downstairs because there was going to be an Art activity. He did not know at the time that all the art materials were for him. Eaden was surprised when he came down to find out it was all for him!

When Yoli presented Eaden his art supplies package, he thanked Yoli and he too gave her a special gift of a Money Tree plant and a hug. This made for a very special moment. Eaden exclaimed, “this makes me happy!” He will now be able to create art while at Lurie Children’s hospital or Chicago Proton center.

In addition to delivering Eaden’s gift, Yoli donated 50 of Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) to Lauren White-RMH Manager. Eaden was able to get some of the Alyssa SAKs. He couldn’t help but continue to SMILE while we were there.

We are encouraged by Eaden’s strong will and we pray for his health. We look forward to seeing his artwork in the near future.



Delivery of Alyssa SAKs to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital – St. Pete’s

Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) were delivered to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL on Monday, February 18, 2019. Executive Officers of Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope: Yoli Alvin-President, George Alvin-VP/Treasurer and accompanied by Beverly Hann-volunteer met with a Child Life Staff member-Tricia Tyoe.

The SAKs included five different variations consisting of acrylic, watercolor, drawing, ocean coloring book and journal kits. We hope these kits will help bring a bit of joy and hope to those children going through a difficult time during their treatments for life threatening diseases.

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, Tricia is the newest staff member of the Child Life Department. Tricia is looking forward to sharing our Alyssa brochures with the Oncology nurses and staff to ensure more children are able to take advantage of the Alyssa Foundation music and art gift recipient programs.

Tricia was grateful for the SAKs and stated they would be welcomed by the children receiving treatment at the hospital.

We look forward to continuing our relationship with Child Life at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.



Art Night at RMH near Central DuPage Hospital

The Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) held an Art Night at the RMH near Central DuPage Hospital in Warrenville, IL on Monday, February 11, 2019. We provided red, pink and white acrylic paints, paint brushes and papier-mache heart shaped boxes of different sizes for the children and their family members to create a special Valentine themed art gift. The paint brushes were provided by Judy Goral-Artist from Lemont, IL.

We met Lauren White - House Manager, young patients and family members who were ready to participate in the Valentine themed art project to create fun gifts for their loved ones.

Whatever the age or talent level, all had lots of fun interacting with each other and expressing their individual styles of creativity. At each Art Night, we are fulfilling the mission of Alyssa’s Foundation and we are so happy to do just that in keeping with Alyssa’s passion for art. Art Nights also provide for the needs of the young patients in sharing their joy and love for life.

After this Art Night event, one young patient – Eaden submitted his Gift Request to the Alyssa Foundation and we are looking forward to honoring his request for art supplies prior to his departure from the RMH.



In Memoriam - Alvaro Liceaga, MD

It is with great sadness and a huge sense of loss that we announce the passing of Alvaro Liceaga, MD, a personal close friend and AAFH Board member. We were not just friends but loved one another as brothers...our two families felt as one.

I first met Al as a freshman at DePaul University in 1973. He was strong willed, dedicated and always fun to be around with. I will always remember the road trip we took in 1975 to deepened our friendship and trust with one another.

When we started this foundation in Alyssa's memory, Al was on-board from the very beginning and with his family provided the support we needed to help make the AAFH the success it is today. Al's presence and support can never be replaced but his love and spirit will always be within us and continue giving us the strength and courage to carry on the AAFH's mission.

Please keep Al's family in your thoughts and prayers that they find healing and hope to cope with this tremendous loss in their lives.



Farewell to Our Beloved Cat, Snowball

On Monday, January 28, 2019, Alyssa’s beloved cat, Snowball, was euthanized by our veterinarian. He lived a good life at almost 20 years old. Our consolation over our loss is to hope that God has brought Snowball over to Alyssa in Heaven where they will always have joy and fun with one another with no more pain or suffering.

Alyssa loved Snowball since receiving him as a gift on her 4th birthday from her uncle, Gilbert and his family. Alyssa wrote about Snowball in her journal saying, “Snowball served as my protector and affectionate, fluffy companion. Every tear that accumulated on my face has been accompanied by Snowball’s presence and his appeasing, kind eyes to mend my broken heart.”

We know life is precious and Snowball was a big part of our family. Alyssa’s brother, Vince, would come home to take care of Snowball when Mom was going on a business trip. Vince loved Alyssa’s cat too! Snowball made many memorable moments in our lives and we will always remember them. We know that Alyssa is smiling and happy we took good care of Snowball until his passing.

We will always treasure our memories with Snowball for the rest of our lives.



New Board Member & AAFH 2018 Accomplishments

Daniel Guerrero was welcomed as our newest member of the AAFH Board at the first meeting held on Sunday, January 20, 2018 at the Casa Margarita in Downers Grove, IL, Daniel is a cousin of Alyssa and has been an active volunteer since the AAFH was established. He has taken the lead in coordinating one of our more successful annual events over the last two years, the Spring fundraiser at Old Crow Smokehouse. He is currently putting together this year’s event and we anticipate another successful event in 2019!

As a new Board member, Daniel looks forward to being supportive to a greater degree in this year’s AAFH events in memory of Alyssa and in fulfillment of the AAFH’s mission in bringing joy through our music and art programs to young patients who are experiencing their own cancer and/or life-threatening illness.

AAFH 2018 Accomplishments

A total of 1050 Alyssa Starter Art Kits were delivered to 24 hospitals, medical institutions and RMHs in the Chicagoland area, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Mexico. There were 54 gift recipients who received their personal gifts of musical instruments, headphones, crafting items and art supplies.

Our volunteers provided support in successfully carrying out 9 Art Nights and 5 Music Nights at 7 RMHs in the Chicagoland area and in St. Petersburg, Florida. We want to thank our 215 volunteers for continuing to assist us in fulfilling our mission and our generous donors for their financial contributions!



Chicago Steel Presents Donation Check to Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope

On Saturday, December 29, 2018, Yoli Alvin -President of AAFH was presented with a donation check by Dan Lehv-President of Chicago Steel and Hannah Schmidt-Artist from The School of Art in Geneva, IL. Our heartfelt thanks to the generosity of the Chicago Steel fans at the Crazy Hat Night game of Friday, November 30th. The auctioned helmets from the game raised a net amount of $1,833.23 in support of the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope.

We are very grateful to the Chicago Steel leadership team Dan Lehv-President and Kyle Kreger-VP and the School of Art Team-Jen, Vinnie and Hannah for selecting us as the not-for-profit organization to partner and work with us in this fundraising event.

Your support directly provides hope and joy through our music and art programs for children and young adults whose lives are affected by a life-threatening disease.



BCBSIL Volunteers Prepare 200 Alyssa SAKs

The BCBS of IL employees organized a volunteer team on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 to create Alyssa’s Starter Art Kits (SAKs) in support of the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) in time for this Christmas season. A total of 36 volunteers set a record of 45 minutes time to complete 200 Alyssa SAKs!

AAFH earns Matching Dollars for each volunteer hour logged into Blue Corps and has been a community partner since 2016! This volunteer effort was led by Denise Perez-Cabrera, Executive Secretary of Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope. We appreciate Denise for her dedication to Alyssa’s foundation.

These Alyssa SAKs will be delivered to teens and young adults being treated for cancer and other life threatening diseases at hospitals and Ronald McDonald Houses across Illinois, Florida and Mexico.

A big “THANK YOU!” to our volunteers from BCBSIL and all the volunteers who helped us during 2018. A total of 1,030 Alyssa Starter Art Kits have been delivered during 2018 and it is only because of YOU, our volunteers! You have our sincere gratitude.



Art Afternoon at RMH East near Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital

The Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) held an afternoon art event at the Ronald McDonald House East near Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg FL on Friday, December 14, 2018. AAFH provided oil-based paints, paint brushes and mixed media paper for the children and their family members to create Christmas themed art. The art supplies were provided by Judy Goral-Artist from Lemont, IL.

We met Karen Matthews, House Manager, and several teens, young children and family members who were eager to participate in the art activity to create fun Christmas art. We also delivered a supply of Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) to the RMH East for the benefit of the children and families currently staying and for those to come.

Regardless of age or talent level, all had a lot of fun interacting with each other and otherwise expressing their individual styles of creativity. This is exactly what we are so happy to do at each of our art events in keeping with Alyssa’s passion for art as well as the needs of the young patients to share their joy and love for life.

After the art event, each participant received a gift of one of the SAKs.We are glad to have had this opportunity to hold this art event and provide these gifts to the children especially during this time of the year.Our intent is to bring them a bit of hope and joy through this Christmas season.



Delivery of Alyssa SAKs to Rush Copley Cancer Center

Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) were delivered to Rush Copley Cancer Center in Aurora, IL on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 by Nadia Tourjman-AAFH volunteer. Nadia coordinated the assembly of the Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) at an Exelon Volunteer Event held in early November.

Laura Rollins -Oncology Social Worker- at the cancer care center received 50 0f the Alyssa SAKs. The delivery included 5 different types of Alyssa SAKs – Acrylic paints, watercolors, adult coloring books, drawing and journal kits. These art kits will be given to young adults being treated for life threatening diseases at Rush Copley. Laura mentioned that the cancer care center had only two Alyssa SAKs from a previous donation and she was glad to get more.

Laura was excited to be able to give the young patients an Alyssa SAK and is looking forward to them being able to have fun expressing themselves through art.



Crazy Hat Night

The Chicago Steel and School of Art Geneva presented Crazy Hat Night at the Fox Valley Ice Arena to benefit the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope on November 30, 2018. The Chicago Steel (United States Hockey League) made hockey history by wearing specially designed helmets during the game against the Central Illinois Flying Aces. The helmets were auctioned off after the game to provide art supplies and music instruments for young patients battling cancer.

Each Steel player wore a unique helmet designed by area students and artists as part of the team’s Crazy Hat Night. The event made for a more colorful viewing experience for fans with the home team donning the special lids.

The Steel believe this to be the first time in organized hockey that all skaters for a team have worn individually designed helmets during a game. Helmets were designed by nine area elementary school art classes, a Cub Scout Pack, the School of ART and other local artists.

Many thanks go out to the Chicago Steel organization, the School of Art Geneva and to all who attended the game for making this a memorable event and for the support given to Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope.

Go here for more info!



Alyssa SAKs Delivered to Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL

Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) were delivered to RMH family room in Edward Hospital on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 by Yoli Alvin-AAFH President and 2 volunteers (Linda Fox & Carol Cole) who helped prepare the Alyssa SAKs during an Exelon Volunteer event.

We met Brittany Rhyne, RMH Manager, who works with the young patients admitted at Edward Hospital. Brittany mentioned the RMH family room lacks art materials for these young patients and that the Alyssa SAKs will serve to fill this void. Five different varieties of Alyssa SAKs were delivered and included writing journal sets, adult coloring books, drawing kits, watercolor and acrylic kits.

AAFH provides Alyssa SAKs to medical institutions and Ronald McDonald Houses to give teens and young adults between the ages of 10 and 21 an opportunity to create their own work of art, write their thoughts in their journal, relax and have some fun coloring.

We thank the Child Life Staff of the RMH family room at Edward Hospital for giving us the opportunity to share Alyssa’s love of art and music, and promoting our programs offered by Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope!



Yorkville High School Madrigal Singers & Musicians Perform at a RMH near Loyola Music Night

Student musicians and Madrigal singers from Yorkville High School joined the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) at the Ronald McDonald House near Loyola Medical Center to entertain patients and their families with the healing power of music on Monday, November 12, 2018.

The Yorkville Madrigals were led by David Smith, their Music Director, and this event was planned by Huntar Jones, a former member of the Yorkville High School music group and a regular AAFH volunteer herself. The 35 musicians not only drove over 90 minutes to get thru rush hour traffic to the performance, but they also donated their own time to practice in preparation for this music night.

They were met by AAFH President- Yoli Alvin and volunteer-Huntar Jones, as well as several families including children ranging from toddlers to teens. During the 1-hour performance, all ages sat in rapt attention at the beautiful music created by the strings of the musicians and the voices of the singers dressed in Renaissance period attire.

As we mingled with the young audience members before and after the show, we were impressed with the attention and appreciation they gave to the musicians. In talking with them about their physical conditions, we were moved by the fact that we took them away from their own health challenges at least for the duration of the performance. We could see in their faces and hear in their applause that the patients and their family members were free from pain, discomfort and stress while being moved by this beautiful music.

Thank you so much to the student-musicians and Madrigal singers, their leaders, David and Huntar, our volunteers and all of you for making evenings like this possible in Alyssa’s memory!



Exelon Nuclear Employee Volunteers Prepare Alyssa SAKs

A group of employees at the Exelon Nuclear Generation Cantera Office in Winfield, IL assembled Alyssa Starter Art Kits (SAKs) on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. These Alyssa SAKs will be donated to several local hospitals before the holidays treating children and young adults for cancer and life-threatening diseases. A total of 25 volunteers participated in putting together 210 of Alyssa SAKs. This volunteer effort was led by Nadia Tourjman, Procurement Specialist for Exelon Nuclear and Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope (AAFH) volunteer.

Yoli met Nadia while working together at Exelon’s Cantera Office. Nadia has previously supported AAFH events and made a very generous donation from her Exelon volunteer hours and continues to work together with Yoli in supporting AAFH.

A special “Thank You” goes out to Nadia because her support allows AAFH to earn Matching Dollars for each volunteer hour logged. We appreciate Nadia for her dedication to Alyssa’s Foundation.

The Exelon volunteer team completed 70 adult coloring books, 30 drawing kits, 30 journal kits, 40 watercolor kits, 20 acrylic kits and 20 lunch bags for a total of 210 Alyssa Starter Art Kits. Last year, Exelon volunteers prepared fifty Alyssa SAKs for AAFH.

Also, many thanks to our Exelon volunteers:

Lisa Z., Kevin S., Karen L., Jenessa B., Lynn M., Rick M., Elias T., Ann H., Maggie D., Stephanie K., Ed M., Abdul A., Audrey C., Maria A., Rita A., Steve W., Bev H., Sireesha V., Durga S., Aruna K. Nadia T., Carol C., and Linda F.



Asher Receives a Boost to Enhance His Craft Making Creativity

Asher Rubio is 16 years old and lives in Romeoville, IL with his family. Asher enjoys expressing his creativity with paper crafting. He started with origami and it took off from there! He also loves scrapbooking and hand projects.

Asher was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia in February 2017 but recently relapsed. He is being treated at Lurie Children’s Hospital and staying at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie’s (RMH).

On Thursday, November 8, 2018 I had the pleasure of meeting Asher and his mom, Martha, at the RMH. Asher is a very bright teenager and exudes confidence that he will overcome this recent setback to his health with his family’s support and the treatment he is receiving at Lurie’s. It was a joy and honor to present Asher with a Cricut Explore Air 2 in a persimmon color. The Cricut is a personal DIY cutting machine for various craft making materials. Seeing Asher’s expression and joy in receiving this small gift made my trip to RMH all the more worthwhile and heartening.

The work of AAFH, made possible by our financial supporters and volunteers, means so much to the young cancer patients. Our gifts and arts programs are intended to lift their spirits and bring them joy at a time in their lives when they’re facing life-threatening illnesses.

We are grateful for the opportunity to share Alyssa’s love of art and promote the programs offered by Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope! We wish Asher all the best as he continues with his treatments and we pray for his full recovery.