Riverside Living Magazine – CHARITY SPOTLIGHT – The CARE project
UPDATE: The CARE Project is celebrating its 5-year anniversary and making great strides
As our readers know, RLM is committed to promoting the good works of people and organizations in our community. The CARE Project, Inc. (TCP) was the very first charity we selected to highlight in our March 2017 inaugural issue. We were so impressed with gutsy founder Carrie Madrid and the mission of the charity, that we stayed in touch over the last two years and have continued to support The CARE Project. We thought it fitting to bring you the latest news about TCP and to congratulate the organization on their 5th Anniversary.
In the United States, one in eight women and one in 833 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. It is estimated that each year 40,000 women and 440 men will die from the disease. We have all been touched in some way by breast cancer: a grandmother, uncle, father, mother or friend; breast cancer is indiscriminate and can be devastating both financially and emotionally to the patient and his or her family.
One of the things that makes The CARE Project so unique is that it was founded by a breast cancer survivor. In 2012, Carrie Madrid, a single mother and sole support of her three children, was diagnosed with Stage III Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma at the age of 41. She underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and multiple surgeries; suffice it to say, Carrie knows the breast cancer journey. As she went through treatment, Carrie listened to the stories of other breast cancer patients and saw not only the emotional toll breast cancer takes, but the financial toll as well. When a patient is undergoing treatment, they often can not work full time, or at all, and their income is significantly reduced while expenses increase. Often patients have to choose between paying their utility bill or paying for medication, paying the rent or paying for gas to get back and forth to treatment. Everyday necessities become luxuries. Carrie was lucky; through the grace and generosity of her father, she was able to get by financially, but she couldn’t shake the worry she saw on fellow patients’ faces as they wondered how they would make ends meet. Tenacious and caring, and despite her own medical struggles, Carrie looked throughout the Inland Empire and discovered there were no local organizations that provided breast cancer patients with meaningful financial assistance.
In 2014, Carrie and dear friend and co-founder Christina Gonzalez, established The CARE Project, Inc. to provide male and female breast cancer patients with financial support. Although neither Carrie nor Christina had experience operating a nonprofit, they had heart and they saw a need they could not turn away from. Carrie and Christina wanted patients to be able to focus on healing, not finances.
Soon after TCP opened its doors, it became clear that in addition to financial support, many breast cancer patients yearned for emotional support and companionship with other men and women going through the same medical and emotional challenges. Carrie created the Survivor Social Club, a relaxed, small group of survivors and patients who share a common bond and thrive on being with others who have “been there, done that.”
TCP further responded to the need of patients for emotional support by establishing a very unique mentor program. Trained breast cancer survivors are paired with breast cancer patients to support the patient as he or she navigates through the cancer gauntlet. Mentors are caring, personal, down-to-earth, and have a wealth of knowledge and resources to provide patients whatever they may need, whenever they may need it.
In 2018, TCP increased its advocacy on behalf of male breast cancer patients by developing an alliance with the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, an organization started by breast cancer survivor Bret Miller and co-founder Cheri Ambrose. TCP is now able to provide its male patients with male mentors and resources specifically for them.
Recognizing the continuing health and emotional needs of breast cancer survivors, this year, TCP established the TCP Wellness/ Total Body Health program. Breast cancer alters patients’ lives forever. Getting over the initial barrage of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is just the first step. The truth is medical and emotional scars from the experience can last a lifetime and the need for ongoing support is real. TCP has partnered with lifestyle coach, Angelina Bodine, who leadS a team of dedicated professionals to offer personal training, yoga, hormonal health, nutrition, and meditation classes, along with lymphatic drainage massage to support the survival journey. The motto for the TCP Wellness/Total Body Health program says it all: “Recover, Reboot, Rebuild.”
Also, in 2019, The CARE Project moved into a great new location on Chicago Avenue that offers a peaceful, harmonious space for patients and survivors. The Grand Opening and ribbon cutting, sponsored by The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, held on August 14, 2019, was a huge success with a great outpouring of support from the community. The CARE Project will be capping off this amazing year with their annual “An Evening of Caring” Gala. This year’s celebration will be especially wonderful because in addition to honoring breast cancer patients and survivors, thanking donors and supporters, and giving out the Man of Excellence and Family of Excellence awards, TCP is celebrating its 5th Anniversary. “This year’s gala will be extra special as we are celebrating our 5th anniversary which is a milestone for a grassroots nonprofit.” said Carrie Madrid. This year’s Excellence honorees are Man of Excellence, William “Bill” Chamberlain and the Family of Excellence award will be given to Marc and Lori Wims. The theme for the 2019 Gala is Old Hollywood Glamour and will be held on Saturday October 5, 2019, at the Downtown Marriott in Riverside.
Over the last five years, TCP has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to its mission. They have continually responded and expanded to meet patients’ needs, steadily increased their impact in the community in meaningful ways and have proven to be exemplary stewards of donors’ contributions. No one who works at TCP takes a salary; except for minimal overhead, all funds raised go to support patients. In addition, TCP’s reputation in the medical community is solid; local hospitals are some of TCP’s best referral sources for breast cancer patients. It is a testament to TCP that 98% of patients come back to mentor and volunteer.
While The CARE Project is proud of its growth and impact over the last five years, the reality is that men and women in the Inland Empire are being diagnosed with breast cancer every day and TCP’s efforts are just scratching the surface. With continuing community support, especially in the form of monthly donors, The CARE Project will continue well into the future, addressing the real life financial and emotional needs of male and female breast cancer patients in our community.