Our History – Celebrating Life since 1996
From a garden party for 200 to the Bay Area’s premier breast cancer organization.
To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation became a reality in a dance class in 1996. This was no ordinary dance class as it was directed toward breast cancer survivors. From this class emerged ten women focused on giving back to the breast cancer community. Nine of those ten were themselves breast cancer survivors. The first fundraising event, which would go on to become the signature event for the organization was Stepping Out. From that very first event, $42,000 was raised which would become the seed money for the B.R.E.A.S.T. Center in Greenbrae. The organization began as Marin Breast Cancer Committee and went through a second name change before becoming what we are known today – To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation.
In the last 19 years, our annual grants have averaged $225,000. These grants have been critical in funding direct service non-profit organizations whose missions focus on the underserved and vulnerable populations living with breast health issues. These services have ranged from transportation to navigation of the medical system to healthy food. Particular emphasis has been placed on services that Annual Needs Assessments predict are most needed. Through the prudent stewardship of To Celebrate Life and the responsible fund allocation of the direct service non profit organizations, thousands of individuals living with breast cancer have been served.
As of 2015, To Celebrate Life has awarded $4,250,000 in grants to provide services to those in need in the greater Bay Area. These grants have translated to approximately 20,000 individual emergency and direct services. While this is an impressive figure that has helped to make a difference for thousands of individuals, there is still an incredible amount of work that can’t be done without increased funding. Having said that, everything up to 2011 was accomplished as a 100% volunteer organization. In recent years we have and continue to supplement our efforts with a contracted support team and no full time employees.
Since 1996 through knowledge gained and developed expertise, our grants process has become very stringent. There are three distinct steps that we use today for awarding grants. A community-based committee made up of Board members as well as medical and nonprofit personnel review each grant, submitting their final recommendations to the Board of Directors who then provide approval. Following the awarding of grants each April, Board members and volunteers make site visits to all grantees at the mid year of the grant cycle, to verify use and progress of funding.
To Celebrate Life values its volunteers, support team, and all donors. Without them, we could not hope for our vision to become a reality:
No One Should Face Breast Cancer Alone.