By Katelyn Gendron
SPRINGFIELD When Helen Gates-Bryant went to the C.H.A.I.N. Fund's breakfast and a movie fund-raiser two years ago she thought she was getting just that, however, the experience of meeting its founder, Kelly Turner Cole, that day inspired her to start the fund's Springfield chapter.
Turner Cole founded the organization in 2002 after winning a yearlong battle against stage three breast cancer. She started the fund, which provides monetary assistance for cancer patients out of work due to treatment, after receiving financial support from her colleagues on the New Haven, Conn., police force. Turner Cole retired from the department on Jan. 1, 2003 and now operates the organization full time.
"I had not heard of any other organization or agency that provides direct [financial] support to patients. I was just so overwhelmed with the support that they provide [patients] and their mission," Gates-Bryant said of her choice to become involved with the C.H.A.I.N. Fund.
The organization has chapters in Connecticut and is expanding not just into Massachusetts but also into Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan, she noted.
Turner Cole called Gates-Bryant's "commitment to do the legwork" on behalf of the organization as the reason why she allowed her to start the Springfield chapter.
"I have to evaluate those who are requesting to do so, [I have to evaluate their] resources and networks because a lot of it has to do with their reach because we don't have advertising dollars right now to go and do a mass advertising campaign so we rely heavily on those in the area to do the legwork," Turner Cole said.
Networking and fund-raising are integral to keeping the non-profit viable as it receives six to 12 requests from patients for financial assistance each week, she noted, adding that they're eligible to receive up to $1,000 per month for anywhere from three to 12 months.
"The sky is the limit [as far as fund-raising is concerned] because there are so many people who need assistance. I want this to be a viable organization that helps cancer patients across the nation," Turner Cole said.
The next breakfast and a movie fund-raiser will take place on April 21 at 8:30 a.m. at Entertainment Cinemas, 1250 Saint James Ave., with the screening of "Think Like a Man," based on the best-selling book, "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," by comedian Steve Harvey. The cost for the gourmet breakfast and the movie is $25 and tickets may be obtained by visiting www.breakfastandamovie.com or by calling 314-3221.
Gates-Bryant noted that volunteers are always needed for the fund-raisers and community outreach.
To learn more about the C.H.A.I.N. Fund, visit its website at www.thechainfund.com.
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