Scott and Kara Hochreiter found peace reading to their son, Owen, during his life. Owen was born on January 25, 2016 with Vein of Galen Malformation and passed away eight days later in the neonatal intensive care unit at Golisano Children's Hospital. In Owen's short life, he touched the hearts of many people and made everlasting memories with family and close friends, and his legacy lives on at Golisano Children's Hospital. (Read more about Owen)
Scott and Kara started the Honoring Owen Book Collection, a permanent collection of books that will be available to families staying in the hospital that may be in need of a good story, as a way to honor the life of their son. Launched on University of Rochester's Meliora Weekend at the Barnes & Noble in Collegetown, the book-buying event led a donation of 225 books to the Family Resource Library at Golisano Children's Hospital. Each book has an attached nameplate where donors can honor a loved one of their choice.
We caught up with Kara and Scott to talk about the first collection event to see how it went.
Kara: The response has been overwhelming. It's so comforting to know that Owen and all of the other children and families are being celebrated in a tangible way. I look at that name plates and know all too well the stories of these families and I love that these books are being used to help other families through some difficult days. Reading to a child is such a simple, yet profoundly important thing, and this program has helped create some happy memories for the families at Golisano.
Can you talk a little about the program itself?
The program was such a success, that it has become a permanent fixture at Barnes and Noble and will also be showcased during various times throughout the year. Anyone can go to the Barnes & Noble in Collegetown at any time and donate a book to the program at a discounted price. We have seen books in celebration of children who have passed, children who are currently being treated at Golisano, children who have been treated there, as well as special dedications to grandchildren, big brothers and sisters, nurses, doctors and entire units of care givers.
(Pictured is the Hochreiter family in the neonatal intensive care unit, holding baby Owen.)
Where are these books being distributed?
These books are being distributed on the various floors of the hospital for anyone to share with their child, as well as used during the weekly story times. We have also designed the program so parents can take home any book that has a special meaning to them during their stay at Golisano.
How did you decide to do a book collection in memory of Owen?
When you lose a child, you have this overwhelming desire to keep their memory alive, and this has allowed us to remember and celebrate the people in our lives who have meant so much, and make new memories each time one of these books is shared. In Owen's short life, some of the fondest and most comforting memories are of us reading, and we wanted every family at Golisano to have that same opportunity.
For more information on the Honoring Owen Book Collection, visit the GCH Family Resource Library website.