Wilton’s Circle of Care receives $150,000 grant

Christina Jones, with her children, one of whom is battling cancer. The team at Circle of Care, she says, is “just like family.”

Christina Jones, with her children, one of whom is battling cancer. The team at Circle of Care, she says, is “just like family.”

Circle of Care / Contributed photo

WILTON — Dealing with cancer is a rough ride, and organizations like Circle of Care do their best to smooth it out with financial support to families in crisis.

That hasn’t been easy given the pandemic and its effect on nonprofit organizations that have lost money due to canceled fundraisers and decreased donations.

But the Wilton-based nonprofit, which helps families whose children are fighting cancer, got relief coupled with a challenge in the form of a $150,000 grant from 4-CT to support Circle of Care’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. The money is earmarked specifically for financial support for the families Circle of Care serves with the expectation the number of families served will double.

The Connecticut COVID-19 Charity Connection (4-CT ) is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that unites donors — private philanthropists, community foundations and individuals — with statewide nonprofit programs to quickly and accountably get funds into the hands of those affected by this crisis who need help most.

“We are so grateful to 4-CT for their commitment to filling the gap and supporting the most vulnerable among us,” Liz Salguero and Liz Vega, interim executive directors, said in a joint statement. “This grant will go directly to help families already struggling with the high cost of cancer treatment and loss of work, ensuring their housing and food needs will be met.

With this money, Circle of Care will double the number of families to which it provides financial assistance.

Families like Juliana’s. She and her parents have to travel to Boston, New York City and Pennsylvania for treatment of her complex medical condition. As primary caregiver, her mother does not work. Her dad works at a restaurant, but during the shutdown he could not work. The family of six lives in a home with a mortgage over $1,000 a month.

After several metastatic relapses, one boy has a poor prognosis. His mother stays home to care for him and his father’s hours have been cut back. His family just wants to spend quality time with him. They needed help with an oil bill.

Many families face a near-impossible choice: if they go to work outside the home, they risk exposing their immune-suppressed children to a life-threatening virus, but the loss of income places the security and well-being of the entire family at risk.

Last year, 50 percent of families Circle of Care served needed financial assistance. Social workers expect that need to climb to 85 percent this year.

From January to May, Circle of Care has already helped 70 percent of the families it usually serves, with seven months of the year left.

“That’s why it’s great we have this [grant] money,” Salguero said. “We’re going to need it.” The grant will allow Circle of Care to reach many more families in need and raise the amount of financial support per family.

The grant does not cover any of Circle of Care’s other costs and its Covid-19 Relief Fund is just over 60-percent funded.

Founded in 2003, Circle of Care has helped over 2,800 families in treatment for pediatric cancer in Connecticut through their financial assistance, dream-room makeovers, day-of-diagnosis care packages, and more.

Visit thecircleofcare.org for more information on Circle of Care. To learn more about 4-CT, visit 4-ct.org.

Christina Jones, whose daughter Neveah is in treatment, put it this way.

“We’re here in quarantine, I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Ever since my daughter have been diagnosed with cancer in 2019, Tammi [Small] and the team have been there financially in ways I could never imagine.

“I lost my job and had to stay home to care for my kids. I was able to keep up with my monthly bills with your help and I am forever grateful. Holidays, birthdays, even when I don’t expect it you guys were there… with presents, birthday cards, to us you guys are like family. Nevaeh’s birthday was this March and you surprised her with a room make over but due to the pandemic is has been pushed back.

“We are still so excited. We love you guys and hope you stay safe and continue to do a great job with OTHER families with kids battling this monster.”