ROBERTSDALE — About a year ago, a group of friends got together with the idea of making a difference for local residents battling terminal illness and their families.
“We just all realized that we had a good core group that had been volunteering for the last 10 years with the American Cancer Society,” said Jessica Devine, who had served several years as coordinator for the Central Baldwin Relay for Life.
Over the last few years, the local Relay began to be phased out, Devine said, and with the threat of COVID-19, all of the in-person events revolving around ACS were cancelled.
“We still love the American Cancer Society and believe in what they do,” Devine said. “We just wanted to do something that would make an impact locally and we wanted to do something that would extend beyond cancer patients. While helping cancer patients is still our focus, we want people to know that this is open for anyone with a life-threatening illness, not just cancer.”
The friends set about creating a non-profit organization designed to help with expenses. They decided to name their new organization The DASH Foundation of Baldwin County, which represents the names of four of the founding members, Devine, Allison Strong (A), Lisa Sangster (S), and Renee Hawsey (H).
Hawsey was named president of the group with Devine as vice president, Strong as secretary and Sangster as an honorary board member, along with another longtime friend, Tammy Mitchell, as treasurer.
The group was set up with the help of attorney Jared Lyles and local accountant Jamie Hardy.
They set up a DASH Foundation of Baldwin County Facebook page and began fundraising through online auctions.
“We have such a great group of friends and family who stepped up to donate auction items and the response was just overwhelming,” Devine said.
Items donated included everything from gift cards to home goods and designer purses.
“Our goal is to auction off one item every month,” Devine said. “We’ve just gotten an amazing response.”
So far, they have raised about $6,000, including $2,000 each from the last two items auctioned. Their goal is to be able to provide $10,000 in grants next year.
Plans were to have the website, dashfoundationofbc.com, up and running by the first of December, and secure 501 ( c) 3 non-profit status by the end of the year in order to begin accepting applications for grants by the beginning of 2022, Devine said.
“It will be set up as a grant program those seeking assistance can apply for different grants, depending on their needs,” she said.
Grants will be offered to help with anything from medical expenses to rent and groceries, she said.
“We know we won’t be able to pay off anyone’s mortgage, but we realize that anything we can do will make a big difference for these families,” Devine said.
If you would like to learn more about the DASH Foundation, you can visit their Facebook page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.