Three organizations receive grants to help cancer patients

Three south Georgia agencies dedicated to helping those in need have been selected as 2011 recipients of the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition Cancer Care Grants. Spring Creek Health Cooperative, Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, Inc., and Grady County Help Agencies, Inc. will each receive $4,000 to help address critical needs of cancer patients in their communities.

"These organizations have a proven track record in commitment to helping their community in some of the critical needs that cancer patients face, often times particularly now when people are struggling with finances, they have expenses that they didn't expect," says Denise Ballard, Vice president of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Located in Colquitt and serving Miller, Mitchell, and Seminole counties, Spring Creek Health Cooperative (SCHC) is a collaboration of health care providers and community partners working to ensure a healthier population that is less likely to experience chronic disease and its consequences. The SCHC cancer patient program addresses the needs of financially burdened citizens with a cancer diagnosis by helping them obtain their prescription medication.

"This is going to be a tremendous asset for our communities," said SCHC Director, Sheila Freeman. "With the number of people unable to afford insurance growing, being able to help those with cancer with their medications is an incredible thing. For those who are already struggling with cancer on top of their finances, this is one thing we will be able to help them with that will hopefully lighten their burden."

The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council Inc. (SGCAC) is located in Colquitt County and administers to the needs of the residents of the 14 counties it serves by helping them attain and maintain self-sufficiency. According to SGCAC Community Services Director, Denise Bell, the Cancer Care grant will allow the Agency to help low-income families dealing with cancer by providing assistance with rent, mortgage, utilities, and medications.

"Many of the clients served by our Agency are experiencing financial crisis due to coping with a cancer diagnosis," said Bell. "The increased demand on a family budget due to costs of treatment and medication, and often coupled with lost wages, results in high levels of stress and even risk of homelessness."

Grady County Help Agencies Inc. was established in 1984 as a collaborative effort among churches and service organizations who sought to provide help for needy citizens. The help agency is staffed by 28 volunteers and 13 board members. The Help Agency cancer patient program helps their clients with cancer by providing counseling, food, clothing and vouchers for utilities, rent, medicine and other needs.

"Our mission is to provide emergency assistance to those in need as efficiently and fairly as possible," said Cindy Johnson, treasurer of the agency's board of directors and also an active volunteer at the Help Agency. "We do our best to help any Grady County citizen who is having an emergency situation, and having a special fund set aside for cancer clients will increase our ability to help ease that burden for so many more of those affected by the disease."

To date, the Coalition has awarded more than $156,000 to local community non-profits since the grants were established in 2006. The grants are funded through individual donations to the Coalition.

In addition this year, the Cancer Coalition will provide grants of $2,000 to each of the cancer centers in the region â" Archbold Memorial Hospital, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, South Georgia Medical Center and Tift Regional Medical Center â" to support the centers' cancer patient assistance programs.

For information about the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition and its programs, please visit them online or call 229-312-1700.

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