Sisu Children’s Fund is a public charity that takes pride in giving grants directly to families in need. Although we give priority to children in Whatcom and Skagit counties, we have the ability to help families throughout Washington state. Since 2000 we have raised over $90,000 to children and young adults with medical problems or physical disabilities not covered by insurance.

How it started

Frank and Barbara Sanchez started this charity in November 2000 in memory their daughter, Jolene. Read their story below:

We started this charity in memory of our daughter, Jolene.

Jolene was 17 when the above photo was taken. A year later, when she was attending Skagit Valley College, her brain tumor came back.

Jolene fought brain cancer for years, and went through four surgeries. She had a stroke during her second, paralyzing the right side of her body. For much of the time she was alive she went through various medical treatments and physical and speech therapy. She participated in therapeutic horseback riding and a brain retraining program, both at great cost and neither covered by insurance.

After Jolene, our only child, died at age 21, we no longer could say, “We leave everything to our children.” We reflected on the other children and families we met throughout Jolene’s struggle against cancer who were also suffering from physical disabilities and going through major medical treatments. We wanted to find a way to help families provide medical treatment and equipment when they couldn’t afford it on their own — or if insurance came up short.

Meet our board members

Sisu Children’s Fund is governed by community members and health specialists throughout western Washington.

Frank Sanchez

Frank is a retired mechanical engineer and founded Sisu with his wife, Barbara, in November 2000.

Barbara Sanchez

Barbara Sanchez is the treasurer and founder of Sisu Children's Fund. She is retired, and has worked for the Bellingham School District and, for 25 years, for a Seattle radiology group.

Ron Effa

Ron is a retired consulting engineer. "It is very satisfying to be involved with a local charity where 100 percent of donated funds goes directly to help children and young people in our immediate area," Ron said.

Elaine Maki

Elaine graduated from WWU with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She owns Bell SLP Services, which provides speech-language diagnostic and therapy services to children and adults in both private practice and school settings.

Kunle Ojikutu

Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Special Assistant to the President for Diversity

Marianne Story: Marianne, a kitchen and bath designer, volunteers on Sisu’s board to help all kids who are in need.

Susan Sanchez: City of Seattle, Public Works Department

Jeff May: ConocoPhillips engineer

Dr. Frederic Braun: neurologist