Member Spotlight

NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION dedicated to medically-fragile children and their families.

Medically-fragile children and their families are an integral part of our community. Families providing care for a medically-fragile child with complex health conditions are often overwhelmed emotionally and financially. Frequent hospitalizations, coordination of care, stress on the family unit, maintaining employment, and mounting medical bills create multiple challenges.

With this in mind, the Doherty family founded Tender Hearts, Inc., a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation. The Doherty’s have made it their mission to support medically fragile children in order to create a better quality of life for them. “There are so many children who are born with disabilities, injuries, and/or diseases. These little angels were never given the opportunity to grow their wings and become healthy,” said Debbie Doherty, Founder and Chairperson of Tender Hearts.

Their mission is to create a better quality of life for Delaware residents by supporting medically fragile children. To achieve this mission, they support local hospitals, individual children/families, organizations, and programs who support medically fragile children statewide. They serve children, birth to eighteen years of age, with all types of disabilities and chronic health conditions, including spina bifida, cancer, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome, to mention a few. 

Staff and board members attend a variety of workshops and trainings to learn more about services for medically fragile children and funding opportunities to support their programs. 

Tender Hearts, Inc. is committed to assisting and supporting medically-fragile children and their families through various programs, partnerships, and fundraisers. They currently have four programs in partnership with Nemours (Milestones, Buddy Bear, ELSA & Beads of Courage) and two others (Adopt-A-Child & Mobility). Program areas include:

  • Adopt-A-Child: A holiday program that runs November 10th to December 10th. This program offers assistance to families who have a medically fragile child, or children. Monetary assistance and new items, from clothing, toys, books, to household items, are provided.
  • Beads of Courage: This program provides a bracelet for children with the intention of providing a source to distract them during treatments.  Each bead counted helps them process the treatment with a sense of security and confidence that it will soon be over. This is provided to any child going through treatment or other medical procedure.
  • Buddy Bear Program: For many patients, being absent from school also effects the other children in the classroom. “Buddy” is a bear that wears a patient designed t-shirt, has a backpack with a journal and information for the teacher. “Buddy” sits in the desk of the child who is in the hospital as a reminder that their classmate is still a part of their school and hopes to return soon.
  • ELSA (Early Learning Success in Academics) Program: A Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children Program that helps pre-school age children continue to progress academically and relieves some of the stress of a lengthy hospital stay by providing a little bit of normalcy during hours the children would usually be in school. The program is available at the children’s bedside and for children who are able to, they offer a more classroom like setting in their 3rd floor rehabilitation classroom. To support this program Tender Hearts, Inc. provides backpacks for each child as well as the workbooks and pencils. This program provides the families the resources needed to help their child to continue growing academically and lifts the burden of another incurred expense.
  • Milestones: The goal is to assist families with medically fragile children to help put a smile on that child’s face and improve their quality of life. This service offers parents the opportunity to celebrate milestones in that child’s life such as a birthday, a medical milestone, and the holidays. For more information about the program, please click here: Tender Hearts will accept applications for assistance through referring agencies, medical facilities, organizations and individuals.
  • Mobility Program: This program covers the cost, for eligible children, of mobility items/equipment not covered by insurance. Items which they have provided to families include: adaptive bikes, prosthetic limbs, special lifts, specialized crutches, wheelchair ramps and other construction/renovations needed for accessibility.

Tender Hearts, Inc. has established many partnerships with other organizations across the state including the following:

  • Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children
  • Exceptional Care for Children
  • United Way of Delaware
  • Ronald Mc Donald House
  • Lily’s List (A Home Healthcare Resource) – care package for medically fragile child leaving the hospital (includes feeding tubes, special bandages, etc.). For more information, click HERE.
  • Hindi’s Libraries – Free books for mentoring program. New or Slightly used. For more information, click HERE.
  • Family Voices
  • Danio Diary
  • Autism DE
  • Family SHADE
  • Parent Information Center (PIC) of Delaware
  • Delaware State agencies including: Division of Developmental Disabilities Services and the Delaware Department of Social Services.

Tender Hearts, Inc. is located at:
5301 Limestone Road, Suite 100
Wilmington, DE 19808
Phone: 302-234-1017
Fax: 302-239-3600

Upcoming Event:
Tender Hearts Roaring 20’s Gala
February 29, 2020 at The Waterfall
For more information and to register for the event, please click here:


For more information about Tender Hearts, Inc., please visit their website at