Monday, August 6, 2012

New Family: Robin and Josh Whitcomb

I have traded emails with Robin and she has written the following:

"A little bit about my recent diagnosis; about 10 weeks ago I found out that I have Stage II invasive breast cancer, which has spread to my lymph nodes. I have 16 weeks in total of chemotherapy, treatments are every other week. After the chemo is finished in the fall I will have surgery, then most likely radiation, and a year of hormone infusion therapy every three weeks.

Up until last semester my husband, Josh, and I were full time students studying at UMASS and GCC. Josh will continue to attend full time for one more year before obtaining his bachelor's degree and I will reduce my studies to part time. Josh also works part time for my stepfather's cleaning business and I am a stay at home Mom to Cole and Hanna. Hanna has been going to daycare 2 days a week during the summer, but she will increase to full time in the fall so I can go to my treatments and school."

She is reluctant to receive help as she prefers to be the one helping.  I have been clear, once she gets better we are going to put her to work for the next family.

So, what can we do for the Whitcomb family? 

New Family: Always a Need

I received this email, in part, today:

"Hey there, we’re writing to you on behalf of our friends, their son, 5, and their daughter, 2. They are great people who live in Turners Falls and are currently facing some tough times.

Mom was recently diagnosed with breast cancer this summer and told that the cancer had already metastasized to her lymph nodes. She began chemotherapy several weeks ago and is facing months of treatment and surgery. The family is facing a mountain of mortgage bills, day care bills and other expenses that they just can’t keep up with.
It’s not just mortgage payments and buying food for the kids, it’s major car repairs, the gas mom needs to get to her medical appointments, the gas dad needs to get to school, everything. They don’t talk about it, but we can tell they’re in over their heads, and we just want to do whatever we can to help. We heard about you through your blog and admire the work you do helping people in dire circumstances.

Any help would be greatly appreciated."
SO, there you have it.
Who can help this family?

To donate directly to, well, we'll call them FAMILY 4 for now:

In the memo line, write Family 4.
We need an online meal coordinator and fundraising ideas, to start.
Probably time to get a board of directors together too.
Please email me at or send me a message on Facebook if you can help or have any fresh ideas.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Art of Helping

As I sat this week with my wife in the hospital, I was once again reminded why exactly an organization like a friend to friend is vital for our community.  My wife makes our money and she is self-employed.  You don't make too much money in a hospital bed, but this isn't about my family.  We are fine.  She is back home and will be back to work next week.  We have all that we need, most of what we want and plenty of help that surrounds us.

But what if we weren't ok?

What if she was in the hospital for weeks?  Months?

What if we didn't have a strong network of friends and family surrounding us, offering to help us, watch the kids, feed us, etc?

Once again, the need for a community building organization that provides direct, immediate relief and support to a family in crisis hits home for me.

I am asking you again, how can you help?

What would you need in a crisis?

Right now we are focusing on the Chapin family.  The latest family to come forward in need of community organization, support, and yes, money.

The community has come together around the Chapins.  Some are selling decals and bracelets, some that don't know the family but understand the power of a many coming together for one cause.

People are organizing a large benefit (August 12), people Justin works with from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, friends, family, and strangers.

Justin is waiting for results from a recent PET scan.  He is getting results today, July 19, 2012.

I will ask again and again and again and again,

How can you help?

If you have specific ideas, fundraising ideas, things you want to just run by me, send me a message.  I'm open to new energy, new ideas, creative can you make a difference?


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


After almost forty years on this planet, one thing that I have learned about myself is that I am an optimist.  No, I'm not all sunshine and rainbows all of the time, but generally I believe that most things work out.  I not only don't sweat the small stuff, I'm pretty oblivious to it all.

Being an optimist isn't always easy. 

People will think you are weird.  They will call you naive.  They may question your intentions.

What I've also learned is that when you ask people to help, most people do.  They pull together.  They create meal calendars, raise money, babysit, mow lawns and get organized.  They get it done.

As an optimist, am I happy with the $1,000 we've raised so far?  Sure.   It isn't a small thing.  Friends, family and strangers have come together and collectively donated for a family that needs our help.  But as my wife will tell you, I am also a dreamer.

What if, as a group, we could raise $10,000?  $100,000?

I mean, what if the Chapins remember this year, not as the year Justin got cancer but the year the community pulled together and not paid their mortgage but paid off their mortgage?

By no means have they asked us for this level of help.  They are beyond speechless and appreciative for what we have done so far.  But I'm putting the idea out there just so you keep it in mind.

I'm thinking, we have about 2,500 members.  I'm guessing at a mortgage of $150,000.    Really, that would be a $60 donation per member.  I'm not asking you to give the family $60 a piece, but can the rest of you see what a small group of people can do together to make a huge difference?

To send a donation directly to the Chapins:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giving is Easier than Receiving

So many of you have already come forward to help out the Chapin Family.  Few words can express their shock and gratitude to their friends and strangers that have started to help them as they travel the unknown waters of living with cancer.

I don't know Justin or Becky, but from the responses that I have received so far, I know that their friends are there for them during this difficult time.

It isn't easy to admit that help would be appreciated.  I'm guessing that receiving money from friends and strangers is a bit weird, hard to swallow, and might make some people feel guilty. 

I think that it is important to remember that most of the time it is easier to help others than it is to accept and receive help.  The goal here is to help as much as we can while at the same time, keeping in mind how difficult it must be to be on the receiving end of so many caring people.

There are a number of things in the works on behalf of the Chapins.  Lesley McCord Cogswell and Sue Avery Scott have set up a meal calendar and as a reminder:

To send cards, gift cards, flowers, etc. directly to the family you can send them to:

Becky and Justin Chapin
PO Box 36 Bernardston, Ma. 01337.

The children are:

Avery, 11 months old, size 4 diapers
Ashlyn, 4 years old, wears size 5 clothing
Caleb, 9, wears size 10-12 clothing

Just to be clear, mom and dad aren't expecting anything (they are already shocked and awed by the support) but people have privately asked and so I am answering it here.  If you aren't comfortable sending cash over the internet, send a card, send a box to the kids, whatever works for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chapin Family

Thank you to those of you that have donated so far to the Chapin family.  Some of you know that this budding group of people, "A Friend to Friend" was in the works last summer as a large group of people got together and began helping the Cromack family in Westfield, both having been graduates of TFHS.

Our theory was that if everyone donated small amounts of cash, cooked a meal or offered a service they could provide to the family, the family could then focus on getting treatment for their loved one and not on trying to make ends meet.

I know with complete certainty that if I or my spouse was diagnosed with a life threatening illness, our lives would change tremendously and if my spouse was unable to work, well, I can't even think about it.

Another part of the evolving theory (we haven't yet established a foundation of sorts because we ran out of steam last year) was that as a participant in A Friend to Friend, if faced with a similar situation, you could just say, "hey, my family needs help" and you quickly get some immediate cash relief, your own group set up, your needs known to your circle of friends and well, support in your own personal crisis.

It surprises some people that this whole thing works.  But, to people like me, it doesn't surprise us at all.  People are innately good when given the opportunity.  I've received some of the most heartfelt emails and notes over the past couple of years when I started doing this.  People want to help, sometimes they just need to be shown the way.

As you think about people like the Chapins, think about what would matter most to you in this situation.

Imagine that you have three beautiful children, a young, hard working husband, a home.  You are building the life that you dreamed of together.  In between driving kids to school, diapers, laundry, cooking, shopping, etc., you are now driving your husband to chemo treatments.

I can imagine.  Shock.  Denial. Fear.  Helplessness.

Now imagine you have a huge network of Friends.  Huge. 

You don't need to "qualify" for the help.  You don't need to show people your bank statements or answer embarrassing questions as to why you need help.  You just ask and we answer you.

Monday I am hoping to send the Chapins a mortgage payment.  I am asking you for financial help.  If you donate on this site, minus a small paypal "commission", your money will go directly to the Chapins. 

If you can't send cash, cook a meal.  If you live far away, send a card.  Make one.  Share our mission with your friends.  Send the kids a little gift.  Think about what would make your life a little easier in the same situation and just do it.

We are all afraid to step beyond what is comfortable, to do things without being asked.  Consider yourself asked. 

Can you mow a lawn?  Plant some flowers?  Cook?  Babysit? 

Can you add your friends to our group?

Are you a writer?

Do you work in a place that you can sell Friend to Friend bracelets?

Can you do a dress down day at work and donate directly to the family?

What can you add?

Donate directly to the chapins here:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Family In Need

I have been contacted by several friends of the Chapin family of Bernardston, MA.

They have three children, 9, 4, and almost 1.

Dad has been diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma and is undergoing treatment. 

Details are not found here to allow for confidentiality during this difficult time for the family. 

Bottom line?

All donations made to Friend to Friend will go directly to the Chapin family.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A New Request

Ok.  So I was quiet for awhile, but a new, practical need has come up.

I have a friend who I think will benefit from our help, although she certainly would never expect it or ask for it.  Some of you will know who I am referring to while others will have no idea.  Here's the scoop:

This friend is in the process of recuperating from significant back surgery.  Infection, hardware removal, and putting IV antibiotics into her own port kind of recuperation.  She utilizes the internet for support and of course, entertainment.

Do you think we could come together and get this woman something practical to ease her recuperation?

Maybe we can come together, get her an Ipad, a few itunes cards?

Or am I just crazy?