When Jo Bjorholm made it her business to help a friend with cancer meet some of her financial, she had no idea her gesture of kindness would turn into a seven year labor of love.
“That was in October 2010,” she recalls. “My friend Jaquie Zachrison had stage 5 lung cancer and she wracked up a whole lot of expenses traveling to chemo treatments. I started some rummage sales to help her out.”
Before Zachrison completed her chemotherapy treatments, Bjorholm was contacted by other people who had family or friends in the same situation.
“Before I knew it we were helping half a dozen people,” she said.
During the seven years that Cancer Outreach has been in operation Bjorholm, Cancer Outreach Executive Director, and her husband Leo have helped 77 patients. Their mission is to pay for fuel and lodging costs for people traveling to chemotherapy treatment.
“The closest cancer treatment facility is in Flagstaff,” said Bjorholm, “but we’ve had people travel to Salt Lake, Denver, Phoenix and Tucson. Then, with most treatments, they require them to stay for five days. Five days lodging gets expensive really fast.”
In the last three years alone Cancer Outreach has provided $13,862 in fuel cards and $35, 260 for lodging expenses.
Cancer Outreach makes all its money from items donated and later old at its thrift store. They don’t receive any state or federal grants or other monies.
“We decided when we opened that no one in this organization would be paid,” said Bjorholm. “We would remain a volunteer organization so that all monies earned could go to the needs of the patients.”
After opening their thrift store in 2014 they began paying their 40 hour per week employees.
Jo made the difficult decision to close Cancer Outreach after a recent hospital visit revealed her own health problems.
Cancer Outreach will close its doors for good on March 31. You can still make donations to their thrift store until Feb. 15. Their last night of BINGO will be March 1.
After closing all their remaining assets will be transferred to Cuddles.
“Thank you everyone for your support of our organization,” said Bjorholm. “Please understand that this was a very difficult decision to make and that it was not made lightly. Please give Cuddles the support you have given us, so they can continue the very important work that they do.”