To hear the doctor say the word, “cancer” is staggering enough emotionally. It can shake you to the ground. Accompanying this diagnosis may be a whirlwind of emotions and worries. The least of all should be financial. To assist in alleviating some of these concerns a nonprofit group by the name of One Community One Family (OCOF) was formed by a group of local women, all touched in some way by cancer. The goal of this organization is to mediate some of the financial concerns by offering grants to cancer patients in Skagit County.

PeaceHealth logoAfter the initial shock, other concerns begin to surface such as: “How am I going to pay my bills or mortgage? Will I still be able to work?” OCOF helps answer these questions so you can focus on your health.

Officially, the foundation was formed in November of 2019 with fundraising efforts fully underway by January 2020. By August of the same year, OCOF began giving out grants and they have not stopped. Currently, 38 recipients have received funding from OCOF.

“We believe most people are not fully prepared for the overwhelming emotional and physical changes during this time,” explains Joanne Bruland, One Community One Family founding member. “If we can help lighten the financial burden during this time then we are doing a good thing.”

The One Community One Family Board of Directors.
The One Community One Family Board of Directors. Photo courtesy: One Community One Family

As this group came together, they began reaching out to the local Skagit community for donations as well as support. What they found was an overwhelming response to help. “We quickly realized how caring our community is and willing to help when someone is in need,” shares Marie Piazza, One Community One Family president. “The love that comes from complete strangers does make us feel like family.”

One person who has worked with OCOF directly is Peter Wold, social worker at the Skagit Regional Health Breast Center. He regularly submits referrals on a patient’s behalf when finances are a concern with treatment. “I find OCOF to be great community collaborators and support for patients in Skagit County,” Wold shares. “They are always thoughtful and responsive. I admire and appreciate their grass roots, locally focused and community minded approach to provide assistance.”

golfers standing in a row at the One Community One Family Golf Classic
One Community One Family puts on an annual golf charity event that is fun for the whole family. Photo courtesy: One Community One Family

OCOF provides grants to anyone living in Skagit County who has been diagnosed with cancer. There are no set stipulations for use of the grant. The intention is to provide help with household bills, groceries, childcare and other living expenses. The application may be found on their website and is pretty straight forward. One aspect they wish to know deals with the diagnosis and a signature from the attending physician. There is also room to write how this grant will help ease some of the financial burden.

According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2022 over 1.9 million people will be diagnosed with cancer, affecting not only the patient but their families, relatives and friends as well. At OCOF, the current board members all came together with one mission in mind, to help more people within our community and let them know they are not alone.

We Can All Help

One Community One Family volunteers with boxes of wreath decorations for their fundraiser
One Community One Family Holiday Wreath Fundraiser is a beautiful way to help local families dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Photo courtesy: One Community One Family

One Community One Family receives funding completely from private donations from local small businesses such as Swinomish Casino and Heritage Bank. Fun events are a main fundraising tool for the nonprofit, that brings together the community for their great cause. For the last two years, they have organized a wreath fundraiser around the holidays. Every July they sponsor the OCOF Golf Classic golf tournament at the Avalon Golf Course. The day includes a putting contest, long drive competition, closest to the pin competition and much more fun for attendees of all ages. Visit the One Community One Family website to learn more about upcoming events, register yourself or a whole team and enjoy a lovely summer day on the green!

Whether or not golf is your thing, there are several other ways to become involved while helping other members of our community. One Community One Family is always grateful for monetary donations or donations of time participating in one of the fun-filled fundraisers. Volunteers make these important fundraisers possible and they can always use caring, fun individuals.

a group of One Community One Family volunteers standing at the beach with a dog
One Community One Family always needs fun, compassionate people to volunteer. Photo courtesy: One Community One Family

Like to shop? There is some pretty cool swag for sale on their website including a specialty roasted coffee blended specifically for OCOF called the Arnott Arrusto OCOF Coffee Blend. Have that morning cup of coffee knowing a portion of each pound purchased goes straight to the OCOF grant fund.

While their focus is currently on fundraising, this nonprofit group has eyes on the future and how they may better serve this community. As far as future endeavors for OCOF, there are many. “We have so many ideas for our future, whether that is adding resources, support, or expanding beyond Skagit County,” says Piazza. “We do not know exactly what the future will be but we are positive we will continue to provide financial support. After all, we are one community, one family.”

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