I’m Lysette, one of Lolly’s Locks’ original recipients-turned-volunteer. I originally came to Lolly’s Locks as a recipient two and a half years ago. When I was diagnosed with cancer the day after my 24th birthday, my husband and I knew we were in for a long battle. I was no stranger to cancer, having lost my mom and my best friend to the disease; at the time of my diagnosis, my grandmother was fighting cancer as well.
Luckily, at the time of my diagnosis, Lolly’s Locks had recently opened its doors, and I was accepted into the program. The wig that I received through Lolly’s Locks made it possible for me to maintain the sense of normalcy and privacy that I craved during treatment, and, thus, had a huge impact on my sense of wellness while I was sick. I knew from the beginning that I would one day apply to volunteer or work for this amazing organization. It took some time to get back on my feet and in the position to be actively involved in the world again, but now that I am, I’m thrilled to be part of this team.
I do a lot of different things in my capacity as volunteer, from organizing our t-shirts to sell and writing grant applications. I started shortly before the freeze on intake applications, so I was trained to do intake interviews, but I’ve never actually gotten do one myself. It’s difficult to know how many people out there really do want and need us while we struggle to figure out the best new ways to raise money and detangle the most complex of grant applications.
As I have some experience in grant writing in my non-profit full-time job, I have taken the lead in organizing and writing our applications. It is truly frustrating how difficult some companies make it to apply for their grants. Sometimes it seems more like they want to appear charitable without actually having to give money to anyone. Also, so many companies don’t want to spend money on administrative costs, but it takes hours and hours to put together their applications, which still means less money for programs!
While many applications ask for similar information overall, each have their own quirks. Once we spent an afternoon hunting down the middle names of all our board members. For a small organization like ours, this is a lot of resources wasted on a pretty inconsequential bit of information when we already provided first and last names, board positions, job titles, and donation amounts. I am beginning to think we really need a common application for grants, just like we have for when applying for college. In the meantime, we spend valuable time and energy scouring the web for potential organizations to partner with, seeking grant opportunities, and trying to not get discouraged when all our hard work is boiled down to a short rejection letter from a foundation that gave us only 2,000 characters to answer questions about programming goals, budget, demographics for population served, and how success is measured.
We have had some really awesome people dig deep into their pockets to help, and we have had lots of local organizations who are eager to host events with us or sell our merchandise (I love the double heart bracelet. I wear it every day in addition to the charm bracelet I wear in memory of my best friend and my mom. It’s a symbol for me of new beginnings.), which is truly amazing. We are so honored to find that our organization has touched so many people’s lives and that they want to help us in our own time of need, which leads me to our great news…..
Applications are NOW OPEN! Our team is has already received one application since our “soft opening” yesterday, and we are exited to finally be back to our real mission, helping cancer patients regain some normalcy in their lives.
In addition to starting to interview applicants, I will be blogging a few more times this month to talk about my experiences as a cancer patient and survivor in regards to finances and fighting cancer as a 24-year-old. Please feel free to comment with any questions you may want us to address too, and we will work hard to address them as well. For now, I am excited to start talking to applicants, and I am looking forward to continuing to share my story with all of you.