May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Cover Story

Deep in the heart of Texas

ECF helps Houston's Cancer Counseling provide support

Deep in the heart of TexasCancer knows no boundaries. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, age or socioeconomic status.

Like the disease, the services provided by Cancer Counseling Inc. also know no boundaries. The mission of the Houston-based nonprofit organization is to help cancer patients and their families and friends cope with the emotional effects of cancer. Founded in 1982, the agency connects people needing support with therapists who provide them with free counseling and community education. Therapists affiliated with Cancer Counseling charge the organization a reduced rate for their services, and the majority of the organization’s funding pays those bills.

Cancer Counseling focuses primarily on the working poor, the unemployed and the homeless—people who might otherwise be unable to obtain assistance. Its network of more than 40 therapists includes those fluent in Spanish or one of several Asian languages.

New to Cancer Counseling in 2003, thanks in part to a grant from The Employees Community Fund in Houston, is its In-Home Program. In-Home Program therapists travel to clients' homes to provide support to caregivers who are unable to leave the residence or have no transportation. The program also helps people who are homeless and suffering from cancer. Therapists will meet them in a fast-food restaurant or other neutral place to provide free, much-needed counseling support.

"It's the most touching—and difficult—part of our program," said Betty Qualls, Cancer Counseling's executive director. "These are the people who are most often overlooked in the system. Our In-Home Program helps us reach those who otherwise would be the least likely to get the help they need."

Deb Hardee, a therapist who's provided her services through Cancer Counseling for two years, said the organization's partnership with Boeing employees extends beyond the grants received through ECF. Therapists such as her give back by participating in brown-bag sessions and health fairs at the Boeing site in Houston.

"By sharing a little of what we do for our clients, Boeing employees who give through ECF to Cancer Counseling can see where their dollars went and who they helped support," said Hardee, who's also the organization's community outreach coordinator. "Every time you give, it helps."

—Debby Arkell


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