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Nonprofit provides for those fighting cancer

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Kathi Silvas, left, and Carolyn Hardwick have been selling pink merchandise at Peppers Grill & Bar on Monday and Thursday evenings throughout Breast Cancer Awareness Month to raise money for the Chaves County Cancer Fund, which offers support to cancer patients throughout the county. (Alison Penn Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The Chaves County Cancer Fund (CCCF) provides financial assistance for Chaves County residents with a current diagnosis of cancer.

Those are the only two requirements for locals to apply for the CCCF to provide food vouchers and help with bills, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, car payments, insurance and more. This year, 74 people have applied and $85,879 in bills and other expenses have been covered by the CCCF.

Since 2006, the nonprofit CCCF has raised funds — through voluntary contributions, the annual Walk for Hope in the spring and activities during the month of October — for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walk for Hope has raised over $500,000 since it began in 2008.

Kathi Silvas, vice president, and Carolyn Hardwick, president, have had family members who died from or survived cancer, which prompted them to get involved with the CCCF. Silvas has been part of CCCF for about five years and Hardwick has volunteered for over seven years.

“… I just have a heart to serve and it’s just very rewarding to know that people feel that other people care — that there’s still caring people in the world,” Hardwick said. “We just live in a society that seems so ‘kick ‘em when they’re down’ and just think it’s important for people to know that there’s … a loving and caring God — and people are on this earth to love and care for others.”

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The two women are wives, mothers, grandmothers — a great-grandmother in Silvas’ case — and involved in their churches. Silvas works at Majestic Radio and Hardwick has been with Meridian Insurance for 27 years.

“This comes from our heart,” Hardwick said of volunteering with the CCCF.

“It’s our passion,” Silvas continued.

On the CCCF board, there are four officers and three other board members — who are all unpaid volunteers. Alys Klein is the secretary and Wanda Porter is the treasurer. Silvas said there are 20 other members — a “small army” of volunteers helps with Walk for Hope and the CCCF is always looking for new members.

More information can be obtained on the website (www.walkforhopechavescounty.com/) or the CCCF can be contacted at 575-347-1533. Interested applicants can call this same number or get an application from Kymera Independent Physicians Cancer Center inside Eastern New Mexico Medical Center at 407 W. Country Club Road.

Hardwick said CCCF is “a diamond in the rough” that is willing and ready to help those fighting cancer. In the community, Hardwick has discovered that CCCF is relatively unknown.

“People recognize Walk for Hope and obviously we push that strongly because that’s our biggest fundraiser,” Hardwick said. “That’s where we get a majority of our funds to be able to help folks, but CCCF, our doors are open year-round. We’re helping folks 12 months out of the year. …”

Hardwick said the need for those facing cancer is year-round, not just during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Walk for Hope. Walk for Hope’s purpose is to “remember those who have lost their battle, but to honor those who are surviving cancer,” Hardwick said.

Silvas and Hardwick said the CCCF works with local schools and businesses on fundraising throughout the year. They said the community and its donations keep the CCCF running. They emphasized that all donations received go directly to help pay bills of locals with cancer and that the nonprofit is a good organization to use as a tax write-off.

“I think the biggest thing is that every penny you donate goes directly to someone fighting cancer to help them with the financial difficulties, so they can concentrate their efforts on getting well,” Hardwick said.

Silvas said $2,000 per month is allotted to each participant per year.

“Since I’ve been involved in the Chaves County Cancer Fund, we have not had to reduce that number because the needs have been met,” Silvas said. “We do not deny anyone. We cannot pay for medical insurance. We can’t pay for your travel. We can’t pay for the medicines or anything like that, but what we do is free up your money by paying the other bills that you have, so that you can concentrate your income on hopefully your medical portions and your prescriptions and such.”

Silvas estimates she gives “at least” 10-15 hours per week for both CCCF and Walk for Hope by processing applications and planning other events. Saying that the hours can vary, Hardwick said that nearly everyone involved with the CCCF committee has a full-time job and therefore is giving of their free time.

This year’s Walk For Hope event faced some challenges with a drop in attendance due to cold and rainy weather. The goal was to raise $100,000 and the final amount was $85,569.41. Silvas said this whole amount has been used already.

The CCCF is planning for the 2020 event. To be a part of it, or for more information on Walk for Hope, individuals can contact the event’s committee at 575-347-1030 or email teams@walkforhopechavescounty.com.

“We’re very proud of what we were able to get and we thank the community immensely for what they’ve done and mostly we just don’t want anyone to forget we’re here,” Hardwick said. “Cancer doesn’t forget.”

Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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