ENCINITAS — To coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an upscale pub and concert venue in Encinitas is hosting a “Dine-in” day to help raise money for women battling breast cancer.
Priority Public House is partnering with Shades of Pink California, a foundation that provides monetary help to women who find themselves in financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. The American style gastropub is donating a portion of its revenue on Thursday, Oct. 24, to the foundation.
“They saved me,” Tina, a San Diego resident and grant recipient of Shades of Pink California, said in a news release. “I can’t describe how it felt knowing someone else has been in this position and actually cared about me and gave me gas cards and grocery cards and helped with my car insurance.”
Tina is one of nearly 150 women in San Diego County who has received funding for up to $2,000 from Shades of Pink California. She is one of six women diagnosed with breast cancer every day in the county. Many find themselves in dire financial situations after they are diagnosed. Even if they are not fired from their jobs, disability insurance does not match their job income. Health care and medication costs can skyrocket. They may need to drive further and more frequently for chemotherapy, radiation, or oncology visits.
Shades of Pink California was founded in 2013 by Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters Kianne Farmer and Christina Fulcher after they learned about the unmet financial need of breast cancer patients. They attended a sorority alumni event where the founder of Shades of Pink Foundation Michigan was a guest speaker. The friends were moved by the stories of women supporting each other and decided to launch their own chapter of the Shades of Pink Foundation in their home state of California. They invited their mothers, Vembra Holnagel and Sonya Fulcher, to join the board of directors.
In its six years the nonprofit organization has awarded more than $178,000 in grants to women struggling to make ends meet. Seventy percent of the women who apply for the grants are single or heads of their household.
Funds are used for living expenses like rent, groceries, utilities, auto insurance, and/or health care. Another grant recipient Tracy, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, told the review committee that she was applying for a grant “to keep a roof over (her) head.”
“Stories like these are heartbreaking,” Holnagel who lost a close friend to breast cancer, said. “Jean was a girlfriend you can’t replace, and I watched the disease take her slowly. She had the funds to pay for good care and help at home when needed, and a loving and caring family, but I soon learned that this was not the case for many others.”
Shades of Pink California raises funds by partnering with local businesses and organizations who host events and donate all or part of their proceeds to the foundation. Holnagel said some other businesses they have partnered with include San Dieguito HS Theater for a Cause, Headlines The Salon, North San Diego County Association of Realtors, Better Buzz Coffee, and the San Diego Gulls.
She said the all-volunteer organization, which is currently powered by nine volunteers, has very little overhead, with 85%of donations going directly into their grant program.
Holnagel said between 35 and 60 applications are received each year and about 75% are approved, contingent on their budget.
“We bridge the gap between when there is a cure and the women who need help right now,” Holnagel said. “The women we serve are in treatment today, so your donations make a huge impact now … and help our applicants get back to work quicker.”
To donate visit https://shadesofpinkfoundationca.org or send a check payable to SOPFCA to 1084 N. El Camino Real, Ste. B345, Encinitas, CA. 92024.
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.