Two Triangle-area charities have merged to offer more services to children with cancer.
The Me Fine Foundation, based in Princeton, has merged with Striving for More, based in Raleigh; both provide aid to children with cancer and their families. The Me Fine Foundation focuses on financial assistance, while Striving for More focuses on emotional support. Both charities operate in the children’s hospitals at Duke and UNC. Together, those hospitals treat about 1,000 children a year.
Diane Moore, the founder of Striving for More, made the merger decision so she could spend more time working on her charity’s programs rather than on administrative duties. Moore said her passion is volunteering, and she was drowning in administrative functions.
“So I needed to find a way to get back to doing what I love,” she said.
Striving for More offers many programs to children with cancer, and those programs won’t change because of the merger, Moore said. Striving for More dissolved earlier this month, and the Me Fine Foundation absorbed its assets. Those assets include Moore, who is now a member of the Me Fine board. And two professionals who helped design programs have followed her to the merged charity.
Moore was inspired to merge her charity after working with another nonprofit that focuses on finding synergies between cancer nonprofits and after reading Elton John’s book “Love Is the Cure.” “I just started seeing there were just way too many nonprofits in this world helping the cancer community and the pediatric cancer community,” she said.
A chance to do more
Joey Powell, executive director of Me Fine, said in the nonprofit world, “You’re expected to get a dollar out of a nickel every day.”
The merger will consolidate resources and help both charities continue to grow, he said.
“It makes a lot more sense to put two nickels on the table.”
Powell said he hopes people who already support Striving for More will continue to do so. “Ideally, we would love for all of the volunteers and donors to pick up and follow us since we don’t plan on changing anything about what they’re doing,” he said.
Powell said bringing financial aid and emotional support together makes sense, especially since the two charities already operate at the same hospitals. Now, when easing the financial strain for families, Me Fine will also be able to provide emotional help.
“It’s a chance for us to just be able to do more when we interact with the family,” Powell said.
Moore founded Striving for More after her 8-year-old daughter, Colleen, died of bone cancer in 2008. During her daughter’s illness, Moore said, the presence of emotionally-supportive programs varied depending on the hospital.
Moore said financial support is important during cancer treatment; among other aid, Me Fine helps families pay their mortgages. “The cost of cancer kills you,” she said. “It can break any family.”
“My husband and I had two six-figure incomes, and if my daughter didn’t die in nine months and my daughter didn’t have life insurance, we would have been bankrupt,” Moore said. “We were having $16,000 a month out-of-pocket expenses that didn’t go toward our out-of-pocket maximum.”
But people often see only the financial burden and overlook the emotional toll, Moore said. That’s why Striving for More’s programs are important, she said.
One Striving for More program is called “Beads of Courage.” As a child goes through treatment, the hospital staff gives him or her a bead to represent each specific treatment. A red bead, for example, represents a blood transfusion, and a white bead represents chemotherapy.
“A typical child will receive between 500 to 1,000 beads over the course of their treatment regiment,” Moore said. Children can keep the beads in a special bag, she said, adding that children are proud of their beads. The string of beads eventually becomes heavy too. “It is a heavy experience to go through, so the weight of the beads represents that as well,” Moore said.
The chemo duck
Another popular program is the chemo duck, a stuffed-animal duck that has its own medical port; that’s where chemotherapy drugs are injected into the body. With the duck, children get to see how the procedure is done, making the experience less scary, Moore said.
Thanks to the merger, Moore said, she will be able to work on new programs, such as organizing a weekly dinner for families of cancer patients and finding professionals to photograph critically and terminally ill children.
Both of those programs will be at Duke.
Moore also hopes to have time to raise money. She wants to extend the charity’s reach to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville.