Founded more than thirty years ago, East Bay-based Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC), began as a peer-to-peer organization offering support groups for women with cancer. Since then, the organization has broadened and diversified its programming to include a wider variety of services supporting people fighting cancer, especially low-income women.

Serving more than 5,000 clients annually, WCRC’s programs are free of charge and aimed at helping clients, their families, and caregivers cope with the physical and emotional changes caused by diagnosis and treatment. The organization serves women with any type of cancer diagnosis. Clients include long-term survivors, and those with new diagnoses, in treatment, living with metastatic disease, and receiving end-of-life care. More than 85% of WCRC’s direct-service clients are living below the federal poverty level.

WCRC manages an information and referral helpline linking clients with financial and psychological social support services. In addition to this, the organization provides emergency financial assistance, transportation to medical appointments, in-home support, and access to psycho-social support including group therapy, individual therapy, and one-on-one diagnosis navigation support. Some of WCRC’s most popular programming includes educational workshops focused on wellness, healthy living, and cancer prevention.

For nearly 15 years WCRC has been renting space at 58th Street and Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland. The organization began to outgrow the configuration of their space and after a rapid increase in their rent, they decided to buy. In January 2016 WCRC purchased a 4,500 sq. ft. property on Ellsworth Street in South Berkeley.

“We were aiming for true sustainability when we decided to purchase a building,” said Penni Hudis, WCRC’s executive director. “Our new space really gives us the opportunity to expand our programming, partnerships, and impact in the community.”

According to Hudis, by offering expanded wellness and community education programs that focus on cancer risk reduction, detection, and screening, in the new building WCRC will engage even more low-income and under-served individuals in the fight against cancer.

“Low-income women are disproportionally diagnosed in later stages of cancer” said Ross Culverwell, Community Vision’s chief lending officer. “WCRC is a critical resource to our community.”

As WCRC embarked on a capital campaign to raise money for renovations and other costs associated with the purchase it became evident that they needed to bridge their capital campaign with a loan to accelerate their move to the new building.

“We’ve never had a construction loan before. Community Vision did a great job walking us through the process step-by-step,” said Hudis. “We were very grateful for that.”

Renovation of WCRC’s new space will be finished in September, and the organization will be relocating to their new space later this year. WCRC plans to invite the community to a gala open-house reception and Capital Campaign fundraiser in February 2018

WCRC relies on individual donations and raises more than one-third of its funding through its annual Swim A Mile event at Mills College in Oakland, which supports the free programming offered by the organization. Prior to each event, participants fundraise for WCRC and this year, on October 7-8, participants will come together to swim or water-walk their mile with support from friends, family, and community. If you’re interested in participating or supporting swimmers, please click here.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Learn more about opportunities to get involved: http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month