Help Support Children Impacted by Cancer
Walk With Sally
Today, 5 million children in the United States are living with a parent who is battling or has survived cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates 1 in 4 cancer patients are parents of a child under the age of 18. In order to help more of these children and families in LA County, Walk With Sally is asking for a $50,000 grant from LA2050 to expand its reach and impact through a satellite office in DTLA. From here we will recruit 60 more volunteers from DTLA, East LA as well as Glendale and Pasadena to support these children and families.
Please describe the mission of your organization.
Walk With Sally believes no child should walk alone in the face of a loved one’s cancer. Therefore, Walk With Sally provides hope through our individualized mentoring and community support services to empower children experiencing trauma through a parent, guardian or sibling’s cancer journey.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- South LA
- South Bay
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
What is the need you’re responding to?
Cancer changes everything. According to a 2017 study by Shah, B. K., Armaly, J., & Swieter, E., “…children in particular have a higher risk of emotional and behavioral problems. The disruption of schedules and daily routine, shifting of household roles, financial stress, and the physical and emotional availability of either parent all contribute to these problems. If overlooked or untreated, these problems can persist into adulthood.” Although responses to parental cancer can vary based on age and the individual, common themes among these children are uncertainty, fear, guilt, and anxiety. Furthermore, in a study conducted in 2007, 53% of siblings of cancer patients between ages 8 and 18 reported moderate to severe post-traumatic stress symptoms. These high rates of post-traumatic stress among siblings included emotional reactions such as fear, worry, sadness, helplessness, anger and guilt, as well as school and academic difficulties.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
WWS knows the need in Los Angeles County is larger than can be incorporated into our one South Bay office. These programs succeed in part due to the addition of an annual curriculum of events and support programs that keep both mentee and mentor engaged in the full benefits of the community such as activities that bring all mentor and mentee or Friendships together as community, art healing allowing for each child begin learning to express themselves, leadership groups that teach about giving back, applying for jobs and careers that are available to them, scholarships to help with secondary education and connection to county wide resources for the child and family. Finally, we provide emergency financial assistance to help families in crisis. Developing and supporting these programs throughout LA County is something that is challenging unless these same services are able to be provided within a closer proximity to each family and mentor.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
While Walk With Sally’s core program is its individualized one-on-one mentoring program. However, our additional programs such as our Friendship Activities, bringing together all our mentors, mentees and families as well as prospective children and families, additional resources we have compiled from all our partners across the county as well as our Temporary Financial Support programs that provide emergency financial assistance to families who are forced to choose between rent or medical expenses and holiday time support of gifts and cheer during one of the toughest times each year, affect each entire family including siblings and parents as well as children and families that are waiting to be matched with a WWS Mentor.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Walk With Sally’s individualized support helps children adjust to and cope with traumatic situations. Through the growth of our directors and staff as well as our relationships with LAUSD school counselors, a primary source of mentees and families, WWS has built the capacity to serve more youth. However, in order to reach the most children in need throughout the county as well as provide the most benefits including the annual curriculum, WWS will focus on expansion through a satellite office in downtown Los Angeles. With an additional Program Coordinator as well as a small rented space within a creative workspace, we feel we can grow the program by 20% in one year.
Currently, Walk With Sally serves approximately 155 children annually. Our goal is to increase this number to 185 in a 12-month period, a growth of 20%. Each year, we look to reach more children experiencing trauma and grief, which requires critical growth in volunteer recruitment, retention, and management. Right now, WWS has 40 mentees in the South Bay and 15 in LAUSD South. With expansion into LAUSD Central & East, which has double the number of schools as LAUSD South, WWS would have 200 additional schools to recruit from. Based on our current successes in the South Bay and with one new staff member at a satellite office focused on recruitment in these new LAUSD districts, we foresee that within a year, we could recruit 20 mentees. Hiring this new staff member to focus on LAUSD Central would allow our other case managers to focus on the South Bay and LAUSD South, allowing them to add an additional 10 mentorships in these areas.
In addition, this Program Coordinator, along with our lead staff, would meet with business owners, corporations, and volunteer and community organizations to recruit the volunteer mentors needed to match with new mentees. This would be executed through new connections as well as referrals and introductions from our 80-person Board and Advisory Board, current sponsors and donors. Most importantly we would also need the help of the LA2050 Community to recruit these special volunteers. From our experience, about 50% of our trained mentors complete the additional requirements and become matched with a mentee. This is due in part to changing circumstances for volunteers, proximity of current mentees on the waiting list as well as making just the right match to the right child. We believe with the recruitment and training of 60 new volunteer mentors, the total increase would be 30 new Friendships and therefore children in our program in 1 year. With graduates and friendship closures, we would meet our goal of supporting 185 total mentor-friendships annually throughout Los Angeles County.
Which of the connect metrics will your submission impact?
- Social and emotional support
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Host public events or gatherings
- Communications support
- Office space for meetings, events, or for staff
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