Preserving a legacy of caring for those in need

Carmenia (left) received financial assistance through the Antoinette’s Kids Fund while her daughter, Olivia (right), was hospitalized.

“I wasn’t expecting to be offered financial assistance, but it truly was a godsend.”

Carmenia is a single mother supporting herself and her daughter, Olivia, who has special needs. When Olivia was admitted to Advocate Children’s Hospital for several weeks last year, Carmenia received help paying her rent through Advocate Charitable Foundation’s Antoinette’s Kids Fund. That meant she could focus on what was most important: caring for her daughter.

“It really helped us through a challenging and difficult time,” shared Carmenia. “It was an amazing blessing.”

Antoinette’s Kids Fund was established decades ago by Antoinette Koca, a longtime volunteer at Advocate Children’s Hospital – Oak Lawn, and her daughter, Paula Partipilo. The fund aids families who are struggling financially due to the hospitalization of a child and can cover expenses related to housing, utilities and transportation costs, among others.

After Antoinette passed away in 2008, Paula followed in her mother’s footsteps and continued her family’s tradition of philanthropy.

“It was very important to Paula to honor her mother. She felt she was the caretaker of her mother’s gift and was always deflecting attention away from herself and back to Antoinette,” shared Randy Varju, president of Advocate Aurora Health Foundations. “Over the years, she became more engaged with the children and their families. And she was so pleased when others were inspired to donate to the fund.”

Paula Partipilo (center) with Susan Mongillo (left), former vice president of planned giving at Advocate Charitable Foundation, and Emily Vernon (right), development manager at Advocate Children’s Hospital

“Paula was not only an altruistic individual and a friend to all she met, but most importantly, she was a guardian angel in disguise to so many patients like Olivia and their families,” added Emily Vernon, development manager at Advocate Children’s Hospital. “She didn’t have children of her own, and she thought of the patients as her children. She loved receiving cards and photos from them and was thrilled to hear updates on their lives.”

Randy and Emily worked closely with Paula over the years and describe her as someone who had a protective instinct and cared deeply about others. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she didn’t tell many people.

“She didn’t want us to be concerned for her. She wanted to spare us the pain of saying goodbye,” said Randy. “Even though she was fighting cancer, she still met with us regularly, so it was a surprise to us all when she passed away.”

But Paula wasn’t done giving back.

“She had the foresight to establish an endowment that will allow social service funding in perpetuity to families that trust their child’s care to our clinicians in Oak Lawn,” explained Emily. “Thanks to Paula’s altruism, she has helped dozens of families make ends meet financially with life’s basic necessities.”

Paula’s generous $1.25 million estate gift will ensure the Antoinette’s Kids Fund continues to aid those in need.

“It’s a significant gift that will have an incredible impact on countless families for years to come. It serves as a lasting legacy and an example of partnership in caring for those in need,” said Randy. “It really speaks to the spirit of philanthropy that was such an important value to both Paula and her mother.”

Learn more about planned giving

A planned gift is one way donors can express gratitude, demonstrate their values and provide long-term support to our patients and their families. By including Advocate Charitable Foundation in your will, you will leave a lasting legacy that has an impact for years to come. To learn more about planned giving, visit us online, or contact John Holmberg, vice president of gift planning, at