The CARE Project, Inc. helps breast cancer patients, survivors with finances
The nonprofit group offers grants for utility bills, rental assistance and co-payments
April 23, 2021
In 2012, Carrie Madrid was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. She was divorced and raising her three children with little child support. Working from home, she was able to take time off for surgeries and complications, but also relied on her credit cards and help from her family to make ends meet.
After doing research, she realized there were no organizations in the Inland Empire that focused on financial support for individuals being treated for breast cancer. While networking with other patients, Madrid often heard that people were having to choose between making a co-pay and buying groceries.
“You could find a support group, a wig or prosthesis, but nowhere that would help you with gas, groceries and utilities,” Madrid said. “I looked at my best friend and said, ‘We have to do something.'”
Madrid and Christina Gonzalez founded The CARE Project, Inc. in 2013. Although they were both single mothers struggling to make ends meet, they were determined to fill the gaps in what was available to cancer patients.
For seven years, the nonprofit organization based in Riverside has been raising funds to assist women and men diagnosed with breast cancer by offering one-time grants for utility bills, rental assistance and co-pays. The organization also helps with transportation, groceries, household items and compression sleeves.
In addition, CARE established a Survivor Social Club for those going through and recovering from treatment. The small group of survivors meets monthly to socialize with others who understand and can speak frankly about the progression of challenges they face. Survivor/patient mentoring is also available for individuals who have been newly diagnosed and are seeking one-on-one support.
“When I started this I thought all these people needed my help, but I didn’t realize how much they would help me,” Madrid said. “It’s been very healing for me, and I didn’t even know I needed it.”
The organization depends on one main fundraising event and donations from the community. In the past year, its fundraising event has been on hiatus. However, the organization has continued to help 200 cancer patients in a variety of ways.
Recently, it received a grant from the Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance Fund through the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Those wishing to help the organization assist clients can make a one-time donation to the organization or make a monthly donation through its CARE Club.
Madrid recently published a book, “Handle With Care: Your Breast Cancer Support Group in a Book,” which is available on Amazon and 100% of the proceeds go to the organization. The book offers varied perspectives from 10 survivors. The CARE Project, Inc. offers bulk discounts for hospitals and treatment centers wishing to purchase the book.
Its podcast, Handle with CARE, Breast Cancer and Beyond, is an extension of the book and monthly social club. In each episode, Madrid and a guest have candid conversations about topics that include dating and intimacy, male breast cancer and managing the emotional and psychological of breast cancer. The podcast has gained listeners from around the country and even Canada, Madrid said.
Currently the organization has one part-time paid staff member. Madrid runs operations as a volunteer while working a full-time job. In the coming years, Madrid hopes The CARE Project, Inc. will grow into a larger organization with the capacity to offer greater financial assistance to cancer patients in need.
“Our motto is never stop caring,” Madrid said. “Visit our website. Consider joining the CARE Club and make a difference in the life of cancer patients and their caregivers.”
Information: 951-742-7405 or www.thecareprojectinc.org
Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.