Spare Key

24 Mar

I am very grateful that my kids are healthy…yes they do have ear infections, tummy aches, and fevers, but those are nothing compared to what other families go through. I have written about organizations founded after the death of a child, such as Ella’s Halo and  Isaac’s Foundation.  Today’s organization is another example of a family turning a loss into something great.

Spare Key is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides assistance to Minnesota homeowners with critically ill or seriously injured children by making a mortgage payment on the family’s behalf. 

In 1997, Patsy and Robb Keech founded Spare Key after the death of their 2 ½ year old son, Derian.  Born with a genetic birth defect, Derian endured many hospitalizations – six major surgeries and five open-heart surgeries in his short life.  Through all this, Patsy and Robb Keech struggled with juggling time away from their jobs and the emotional strain of caring for a very ill child.   The choice to go to work to avoid losing their home or leaving their critically ill son was tormenting. In the end, they chose their son.  Friends and family members assisted them with expenses during this time and the idea for this organization was born.

Spare Key is located in Bloomington, however they serve families throughout the state of Minnesota.  Over the past fourteen years, they have been able to assist nearly 1,200 Minnesota families, in almost every county across the state.  They have paid out over $1.1 million.

The funds used to help families are raised through foundation, individual, community, and corporate giving.  All donations are tax deductible and are recognized in a personal letter.  They also hold two major events each year to raise additional funds.  The Spare Key Golf Benefit is scheduled for September 20, 201l and a winter semi-formal event called “The Groove” was just held in February.

Spare Key is currently striving to grow their organization and budget in order to serve even more Minnesota families struggling to care for their critically ill or injured children.  Many groups and businesses have been inspired to hold fundraising events for Spare Key. 

Sharing the Spare Key story also helps by making more people aware of their services and finding new donors.  Invite Spare Key to share its history, mission and goals with your co-workers, church, civic group, or informal group of friends. According to Spare Key Executive Director, Anne Bomstad Miller, “Spare Key welcomes the opportunity to share our story, and can tailor our presentation to any length.”

Spare Key pays out a maximum of $1,200 per family served.  Families can learn about the program guidelines and apply for the program on the Spare Key website.  Not all recipients have terminally ill children but all greatly appreciate the assistance.  Some examples include the parents of a car accident victim, parents of childhood cancer patients, and parents of a child with a heart defect.  One recipient writes, “Without Spare Key, I don’t think I would be writing you this note from my kitchen table in the house in which we still live.”

How can you help?

  • Make a tax deductible donation.  Spare Key offers many opportunities to give such as monthly giving, planned gifts and more on their website.
  • Hold a fundraiser for Spare Key – maybe a bake sale, silent auction, garage sale, change drive, or a jeans day!
  • You can also support Spare Key through a workplace giving program such as United Way.  Simply note their tax id number (41-1888767) on enrollment forms.
  • Encourage your company to become a sponsor for one of the two annual Spare Key fundraising events.  Recognition and other benefits are provided to all sponsors.  For more information, please contact Anne Bomstad Miller at or by phone at (952) 406-8872.
  • Spread the word about Spare Key by sharing this post.

Learn more about Spare Key on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

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Posted by on March 24, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization


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