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What is Friends of Karen?



Friends of Karen is a North Salem-based non-profit that provides emotional, financial, and advocacy support for children with a life-threatening illness and their families. These services, which help keep families functioning so they can cope with the trauma, are available to residents in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

The organization began in 1978 when 16-year-old Karen MacInnes, who was terminally ill with a rare genetic disorder called Lafora disease, requested she spend her remaining time at home with her family in Purdys. A family friend, Sheila Petersen, appealed to the community, and friends and neighbors made generous contributions that went toward numerous bills and 24/7 care for Karen during the last 11 months of her life. Once Karen passed, Sheila—at the wishes of Karen’s family—continued her fundraising efforts, naming her organization Friends of Karen. 

“Friends of Karen is such a special organization,” says Julie Henick, a Bedford Corners resident and volunteer. “Not only do they provide financial, emotional, and advocacy support to families whose children get diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, they also think of all the little things in between, like making sure every child in each family gets a birthday present. They also consider the needs of the siblings of the sick child—because they are affected, too. They take care of the transportation, they provide Thanksgiving meals, and they give holiday gifts to all the children in the families.”

Friends of Karen
118 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY
914-277-4547
Friendsofkaren.org

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