Cherese Mari Laulhere was someone who thrived. Full of warmth and compassion, she endeavored to make a difference in the world, especially for children. Her legacy continues to do just that.
A Vision that Lives On
From a young age, Cherese had a vision for her life and what she hoped the world would look like one day. She said, “I want to make a difference in this world, no matter how small.” Cherese’s life tragically ended at the young age of 21, so her family carries out this vision in her honor. It is a vision that has impacted—and continues to impact—the lives of many children.
For over two decades, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation has supported essential services and treatments for CHOC patients. In 2017, Cherese, through the foundation, made a transformational gift to the Child Life Department; and two years later, another generous gift to the Mental Health Inpatient Center, each of which bear Cherese’s name. Chris Laulhere, Cherese’s mom, shares “Cherese’s heart was always full of love and compassion. And giving to CHOC felt like a perfect match for Cherese’s gift to be used for the Child Life Department. She would have been very happy.”
Making CHOC Feel like Home
The child life team at CHOC strives to deliver comfort and joy so patients can focus on what’s most important: feeling better. Services provided by the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Department helps young patients throughout CHOC and are philanthropically funded. In other words, the compassionate care and specialized services provided by the child life team are made possible through the generosity of donors like the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation.
During the pandemic, CHOC’s child life specialists have found creative ways to be together and engage patients in joyful activities. From virtual ukulele lessons to calligraphy classes and magic tricks, the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life team remains committed to helping kids feel like kids, even when hospitalized.
Chris notes, “we are so impressed with every detail that the child life department performs. Each team specialist puts their heart and soul into helping kids. It’s just incredible.”
Meeting the Mental Health Challenge in our Community
The Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center is the first pediatric inpatient psychiatric center exclusively dedicated to the treatment of children ages 3-17, and is the only inpatient facility in Orange County that treats patients younger than 12. The opening of this unique center was the result of philanthropic support by the community and is sustained by generous giving from the Cherese Mari Laulhere Foundation.
The pandemic has been particularly difficult on those with mental health issues and the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center has been at capacity for months. Despite these challenges, the Center continues to not only meet the growing number of admitted children, but also provides the quality of care kids deserve. The team knows their hard work has paid off when they see children leave the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center healthier and happier.
Larry and Chris are grateful for all Cherese’s legacy is doing: “It’s inspiring knowing that the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center is a resource for the community and the difference it is making. You always hope the best for all these children, the best outcomes so that they can live their life happier, with more joy, which is hard to do in these times. But with that added assistantance for those children who need it, we are thankful for the Cherese Mari Laulhere Mental Health Inpatient Center.”
Cherese’s desire to make a difference in this world is realized every day. Her compassionate vision changes children’s lives. Chris reflects: “We’re proud of all the work Cherese is doing through her gifts to CHOC. Cherese was a loving, compassionate, wonderful and kind daughter and sister. The beauty upon her smiling face was a reflection of all things beautiful within her. She knew there were less fortunate children in the world, and however she could help, that’s what she wanted to do.”