When Elizabeth Read’s mother passed after nearly three years of fighting pancreatic cancer, her grief left her wanting to help others battling the disease. This led Read to starting a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating everyday burdens for cancer patients.
Read’s mother often expressed how lucky she felt to be supported by friends and family for everyday tasks. Her husband could afford to take time off work for appointments and hire help for lawn care and housekeeping, which allowed her mother to focus her remaining time enjoying her grandchildren.
However, not all cancer patients can afford to do this. Read had a friend whose mother was also battling cancer, but had to work while undergoing treatment. Read saw the difference it can make for a patient to get much-needed support and started a non-profit called TWIGS — To Work In Grateful Service. The name is a tribute to Read’s mother, whose nickname was “Twigs.”
The organization provides light housekeeping, lawn care, rides to appointments and grocery and prescription delivery to cancer patients who are undergoing treatment.
“They were the things I noticed while helping my mom that made the biggest difference,” Read said.
Friends and family often offer help to cancer patients, but don’t always consistently follow through, she said.
“Cancer patients never talk about it, but treatments never last three months and you’re done,” she said. “It’s always at least a year-long process.”
Read’s mother was told she had a year left, but made it nearly three years.
“I believe a lot of that was because she had the support she did,” Read said.
The organization filed for 501(c)3 status just before the pandemic hit, but the IRS lost the application. TWIGS officially received nonprofit status in April 2021.
Over a year later, the organization has partnered with Sparrow Hospital and is working on a partnership with McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.
The nonprofit hopes to build community partnerships with lawn care and house cleaning companies. The services offered are on a volunteer basis. Volunteers must undergo a full background screening, be fully vaccinated and wear masks while on the job. The precautions are necessary, Read noted, to make immunocompromised cancer patients feel safe with the volunteers.
Nominations for ‘Flowers for Fighters’ now open
Now through Friday (May 20), TWIGS is hosting “Flowers for Fighters,” where locals can nominate a person who is currently undergoing treatment to receive a pot of flowers and support service access, which can include “light housekeeping, yard work/mowing, grocery and prescription delivery, or appointment rides,” as appropriate and requested.
At least 50 recipients will receive an 8-inch pot of flowers and information about the services they provide. Nominations can be made directly through the website now through Friday, May 20. Donations can also be made through the website.
Visit twigsinc.org to nominate a loved one.
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