Mike and Charlotte Zeiders knew long ago that they wanted to do something special and far reaching with their charitable giving.
While they were moved to donate to some very impressive organizations, they knew with Mike’s entrepreneurial drive and Charlotte’s compassion, they could maximize the reach of their giving if they were directly involved with the process. That is where the Zeiders Family Foundation began and then evolved into the Quality of Life Foundation.
Quality of Life Foundation strives to make positive differences in peoples’ lives today that will continue far into the future. By focusing on initiatives that improve the quality of life of those who have been struck by misfortune, and teaching them skills for rebuilding in spite of those life struggles, the Foundation will have indeed provided a life-long benefit to those they serve.
The Quality of Life Foundation launched its first initiative, the Wounded Veteran Family Care Project in February 2008 shortly after a chance meeting between Michael Zeiders, and the spouse of a Marine with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This meeting was the catalyst for the Foundation to begin researching the unique challenges faced by families of service members with wounds, injuries, or illnesses that required substantial caregiving. The goal was to document families’ experiences and identify the resources required to successfully respond to this life-changing event.
Between March and October 2008, over 900 hours of research and outreach culminated in the April 2009 publication and distribution of the Wounded Warrior Family Care Report. This report clearly defined the population reviewed, their unique support needs, existing resources, and a comprehensive Model of Support. After eight months of research, listening to the real-life stories of caregiving family members, reviewing congressional hearing testimonies and pending legislation, analyzing existing government and non-profit supports, and talking with case managers and other care providers; the Quality of Life Foundation identified several areas for improvement for family caregiver support. We then worked collaboratively with the aforementioned groups to develop a solution to one of the biggest challenges identified in the report. That challenge is the lack of community reintegration support as these families transition away from the 24/7 support network of the Military Treatment Facilities to community-based home care.
In March 2010, the Quality of Life Foundation launched the Wounded Veteran Family Care Program to support families who provide a substantial amount of caregiving to a wounded, injured, or ill veteran. Our client families include veterans with combat and non-combat-related traumatic brain injuries; PTSD, stroke; spinal cord injuries; multiple amputations; and other poly-trauma injuries. We focus on the whole family because oftentimes, caregiving responsibilities, coupled with financial strain, result in family members forgoing their own quality of life needs and we addressed quality of life needs through local and national resources, or through the outright purchase of goods/services.
Our advocacy contributed to the expansion of caregiver support through the VA over this period, as our nation’s intense and extended military engagements were substantially declined and caregiver support resources expanded. The VA is currently in the process of implementing the Mission Act which expands benefits and eligibility for caregivers across the spectrum. Just as we did 11 years ago, QoLF is identifying and filling a gap in caregiver support by now focusing on advocacy and support to caregivers negotiating the PCAFC benefits and guidelines.