Know your nonprofit: Quest for normalcy
What is your mission?
Provide peer support, respite, mentoring and recreational programs for all members of families affected by childhood cancer.
What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?
$1.6 million and nine paid employees.
What is your nonprofit’s history?
Children who are diagnosed with cancer miss a normal childhood. Their illness, treatment and complications can keep them from enjoying activities that often are taken for granted. And yet these children, like all children, need the opportunity to grow, experiment and discover independence.
Camp Okizu began with the belief that a residential camp can help children struggling with a life-threatening illness to enjoy a normal life, while interacting with others who understand their illness.
All family members are impacted by childhood cancer. Interactions with true peers and the strong sense of community fostered by a residential camp provide valuable emotional and practical support, while allowing everyone to take a break from their routine and have a great time.
In 1982, we began by taking 28 children with cancer to a Campfire program for one week.
Later, we added family camp weekends for parent discussion groups and sibling camp weeks in the summer.
After several years, we added weekends for families who have lost a child and now two weekends for teens who have lost a sibling. We also have added a weekend just for brain tumor families, and a weekend for families where our discussion groups are in Spanish.
Who is your primary audience?
Families in Northern California who have or had a child with cancer.
List your biggest achievements.
• Supporting all family members affected by childhood cancer – about 2,500 people a year.
• Accommodating every family in Northern California that wanted to come without ever charging a fee or turning anyone away.
• Expanding to provide programs for young adults 18-25 diagnosed with cancer.
List your biggest challenges.
• Funding in difficult economic times, as demand rises.
• Getting sufficient volunteers to help run each program.
• Repair and maintenance of our beautiful camp in Berry Creek, just east of Lake Oroville.
What is your No. 1 short-term goal?
Pay off our mortgage.
What is your No. 1 long-term goal?
Add programs that meet the needs of our population and caregivers.
What are your major fundraisers and dates?
• Climbing for a Cause, Oct. 9, Grass Valley (see box for details)
• Celebration for Okizu, Oct. 23, Sacramento
• Art Inspiring Hope, March 12, 2011, San Francisco
What is the best way to help?
• Become a volunteer staffer for a family camp weekend or nine-day summer camp program
• Volunteer at a work weekend at the camp
• Attend a fundraiser
• Donate an item from the wish list
• Donate financially
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