"We help families bounce and not break"

2,000th family served!


Schmitz Family of Minnesota is latest family to benefit from more than $2 million in housing payments since 1997

 (Minneapolis, MN) When Robb and Patsy Keech began Spare Key in their home in 1997 they likely could not envision the impact the organization would have on the lives of thousands over the years.

As a lasting tribute to their son, Derian, who earned his “Angel Wings” at the age of 2 ½ years of age, Spare Key (www.sparekey.org) provides a rental or mortgage payment to families with seriously ill or critically injured children in the hospital.

Now operating in four states – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin – Spare Key has reached a major milestone by providing its 2,000th family with a housing payment.

Ryan and Erin Schmitz, parents of Dylan Schmitz, represent the 2,000th family that will receive a housing payment by Spare Key as of November 1st, 2013.  Dylan was born in 2012 with Down Syndrome and was recently diagnosed with AML Leukemia.  Since his birth Dylan has undergone 6 hospitalization stays of 5 or more days, with his parents having exhausted their vacation and sick leave, resulting in his Mom having to take an unpaid leave of absence for 2/3 of the time during his leukemia treatment.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Children with Down syndrome have a tenfold to twentyfold increased risk of leukemia compared with children without Down syndrome…”

“This milestone represents more than just a housing payment for one family,” said Erich Mische, Spare Key Executive Director. “It represents the commitment of thousands of individuals, foundations, corporations and others who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that we can help families “Bounce and not Break” with an important housing payment during their child’s medical crisis.”

That Spare Key is able to help a family at a time when their resources are stretched thin or nearly exhausted is just one of the goals of the organization.  According to Spare Key Board Member, Mark Bergeron, M.D., a noted Minnesota neonatologist, the need for parents to be actively engaged in their child’s care and recovery is the true genius of Spare Key’s mission.

“Any physician, nurse, social worker or care giver to a child will tell you that the recovery of that child after a significant illness or injury has resulted in hospitalization is directly impacted by the presence of a parent,” said Bergeron. “Either by having the parent in the hospital, or the recovery room or just simply 100% focused on the child’s care plan; there is no substitute for a parent being involved.  Spare Key helps that by relieving the stress of how a rent or mortgage will be paid, allowing the parent to be laser focused on their child.”

For the Schmitz Family Spare Key represents a critical lifeline for their family and their child.

“While we are grateful that Dylan continues to improve the fact is, without Spare Key’s assistance, we don’t know how we would have been able to maintain our capacity to stay focused on his care,” said Ryan Schmitz, Dylan’s father. “This organization’s work is so absolutely critical to families like ours.  The process is easy.  The goal is realistic.  And the outcome is simple:  Help families stabilize their finances and keep parents involved in their child’s care.”

A 501 ( C ) 3 non-profit, Spare Key expanded its program in 2013 to include rental payments as well as mortgage payments to families.