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Mattea's Joy strives to bring joy in the journey of families with hospitalized children.

Our current projects include:

  • “Joy Day” once a month at Comer Children’s Hospital. Care packages are provided to “little ones, “kiddos”, “teens” and “grown-ups” along with snacks to remind families that they are remembered and that they can find joy and hope, even in hard times.
  • The “Eat, Play, Stroll” program in partnership with the Center for Healthy Families at Comer Children’s Hospital and Lurie Children’s Hospital.
  • Snack boxes provided through the social workers at Comer and Lurie to families throughout the days we don’t have a physical presence at the hospitals.
  • Hot catered dinner served once a month in the NICU and PICU at The University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital.
  • Homemade dinner (or catered dinner with current COVID-19 restrictions) served once a month at the Ronald McDonald House near Comer Children’s Hospital.
  • Care items provided to Social Workers and Child Life staff at Comer Childen’s to share with families. These items range from fuzzy socks and chocolate to practical items such as cell phone chargers or clothing that may unexpectedly be needed by family members by the bedside.
  • Transfer Packets that include Food, Gas, and Parking gift cards in addition to driving directions and tips for parents transferred from Riverside Medical Center or Presence St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee to Comer Children’s Hospital.
  • Mattea’s Princesses visit children at Comer Children’s to bring a bit of Princess Magic to the children and their families.
  • Cookies and Milk served the week of Christmas each year at Comer along with books for the kiddos.

Mattea Joy's Story

Mattea Joy Freedlund was born April 13, 2009 to with several severe medical complications. We (Gary and Jamie Freedlund) were given a very small chance that she would survive at birth and we were able to share nine and a half wonderful months with her that we didn't expect to have. Her medical issues didn't allow us much time with Mattea at home and therefore most of her life was spent in the hospital with her at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital. It was there that we came to understand what it means to be a parent of a critically ill child and the challenges that go with that experience.

Gary and Jamie felt strongly that we wanted to take what we learned with our experience with Mattea and make the experience easier for other families in similar circumstances with a child in the hospital. One year of our lives allowed us to empathize and serve others in ways we couldn’t have imagined before.

Mattea's Joy became a non-profit organization on April 13, 2010 and we have been moving forward with her work ever since.