By the age of 23, Jillian Domingue had lost three close friends to 3 different types of cancer. This kind of loss would make so many people numb, hoping to avoid anything to do with this disease. Not Jillian! As a senior at the University of Texas, Jillian turned these losses into inspiration and started a nonprofit in 2011 called ColorCancer (now CareBOX Program). She rallied high schools and universities to get t-shirts in the color of cancer that had impacted them. This effort was to raise awareness of all the different types of cancer as well as funds which she donated on to existing cancer charities.
During those first few years, she spent significant time researching and having countless conversations with cancer patients, oncologists, and community members. As a result, Jillian discovered a serious gap in cancer care; there is nothing to help patients and their families with the essential care supplies they need at home to improve their quality of care. She learned a shocking statistic, that 1 in 5 individuals with cancer are not dying from the disease. Instead, they are dying from the effects of malnutrition, infections, and injuries from falls.
With financial support and a concept, she was ready to take the vision of a program into a reality. Jillian did not let the fact that there was no other program like this in the country and no list of supplies stop her. In the summer of 2014, Jillian recruited Lisa Keefauver from Ann Arbor, Michigan because of her significant experience as a clinical social worker and non profit program director. She too had a cancer story, having lost her husband to Brain Cancer in 2011. Inspired by the possibility of making such an immediate impact in the lives of families also impacted by cancer, she decided to take a leap of faith, move to Austin, and join Jillian in designing and launching the CareBOX Program! Watch their story: The Story of CareBOX Program Video
Cancer has a physical, emotional, and financial impact on everyone who has the disease. CareBOX Program invites patients to build a custom wish list of care supplies from a list of 40 items, specific to their needs, based on their diagnosis and effects of treatment. These are primarily items not covered by insurance and many barriers exist to the patient and their families that prevent access to the supplies they need. The CareBOX Program removes these barriers by providing supplies at no cost and delivering directly to the patient's home.
CareBOXes (generally a trunk-full of supplies) include mobility items to help avoid injuries and falls, nutritional supplements to defend against malnutrition, and infection prevention supplies to prevent complex infections. CareBOX Program strives to maintain a 1-2 week delivery window: from patient application to delivery of items, ensuring the impact is immediate. The program is open to all patients regardless of age, race, income, or type/stage of cancer. Beyond improving the lives of the patients themselves, the program also benefits the family members and caregivers in their lives. To date, over 260 CareBOXes valuing on average $450 each, have been delivered to the homes of over 220 Central Texas cancer patients of all ages and types of cancer.
In early 2016, we were lucky to have Rhiannon Nunziato join the team as Director of Operations in order to streamline the day to day logistics involved in running this program. She has significant experience in the corporate world, but followed her heart to put her skills to use serving cancer patients. In early 2017, Heather Lewis joined the team as our Patient Coordinator. Her passion and sincerity is evident the minute you meet her, and she works to ensure that both patients and volunteers feel welcomed and get what they need.
We are grateful that the CareBOX Program’s impact is being recognized in the Austin community including this Feature in Austin Woman Magazine, as the featured Get Involved Charity on NPR, and on local news including this Feature on ABC. Our goal is to deliver more than 700 CareBOXes in 2017, and we couldn’t do it without donors like you. We are incredibly honored that the Stevenson family has chosen CareBOX Program to be the charitable recipient of this year’s Team ReJoyce Weekend of Hope event. We look forward to meeting y’all in May!
Lisa Keefauver, Co-founder and Director of Development