• San Diego Breast Cancer Charity Announces New Gift Card Program

    October 22, 2020

    San Diego Breast Cancer Charity Announces
    New Gift Card Program

    Shades of Pink Foundation California Now Offering Gift Cards
    of Up to $500 to San Diego Women in Breast Cancer Treatment


    For Immediate Release:

    Vembra Holnagel

    (858) 356-4204



    OCT 2020, SAN DIEGO – Shades of Pink Foundation California (SOPFCA) recently announced the rollout of the Gift Card Program, adding a new element to its financial support for women in active breast cancer treatment.

    The new program provides gift cards of up to $300 for single women and $500 to married women or women with dependent children. The gift cards apply to well-known grocery stores, gas stations, or big-box retailers. In order to qualify for a gift card, a woman must submit a shorter application than she would for the Basic Living Expense for Support and Survival (BLESS) grant of up to $2,000.

    “Breast cancer doesn’t go away just because we are facing a pandemic and an uptick in economic uncertainty,” said Vembra Holnagel, the Grant Committee Chairperson for SOPFCA. “In fact, the need for financial relief is greater now than ever for women fighting breast cancer. Our gift card program is meant to be a fast, easy, and efficient way of getting money into the hands of women who need it the most.”

    For seven years, SOPFCA has provided BLESS grants to women in active breast cancer treatment, but the nonprofit organization decided to develop the gift card pilot program after several referral partners, the medical professionals who work with breast cancer patients, mentioned that not every woman could qualify for a BLESS grant.

    According to Holnagel, the initial gift card pilot program was a big success, with SOPFCA giving out 28 gift card grants and using all of the program’s designated funds. That result was sufficient for SOPFCA to adopt the program permanently, which was officially launched in early September of 2020. Holnagel stated that she would love to be able to increase the program to cover two consecutive months to provide even more support for women in the most need of financial help, but that future growth of the Gift Card Program will depend on meeting fundraising goals and receiving donations.

    SOPFCA was forced to cancel its largest fundraising event, Purse Bingo, in March due to pandemic-related concerns.

    The organization is actively seeking funds for gift cards so they can assist as many local breast cancer patients as possible.

    To learn more about SOPFCA, read profiles of women who have received support from the organization, or to donate, visit www.shadesofpinkfoundationca.org


    Shades of Pink Foundation California is a nonprofit organization that provides temporary monetary assistance to women who live in San Diego and who are experiencing financial distress as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. SOPFCA was founded in 2013. The organization’s website is shadesofpinkfoundationca.org.

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  • The Story Behind SOPFCA’s New Gift Card Referral Program

    October 22, 2020

    The Story Behind SOPFCA’s New Gift Card Referral Program

    We have exciting news! In February, Shades of Pink Foundation California rolled out a trial project—our Gift Card Referral Program—to find a new way to get funds into the hands of women in breast cancer treatment. This  program promised a simpler application, faster turnaround, and easier qualification.  You may ask, “why  did we start a whole new program, and how did the trial turn out?”

    Seven Years of Giving

    As of 2020, SOPFCA has been providing BLESS (Basic Living Expenses for Support and Survival) grants to women in active breast cancer treatment for seven years. Over this time, we built a strong reputation in the San Diego community and developed a stable network of referral partners.

    Recently, we have been hearing from our referral partners that not all of their patients were able to qualify for our BLESS grant program. Among the requirements for these grants is that a woman must be undergoing traditional types of cancer treatments and that she was employed prior to her cancer diagnosis. Our referral partners explained that some women chose to seek non-traditional treatments, while other women were stay-at-home mothers or  retired.

    We realized that we needed  to find a way to support these women as well. After consulting with other breast cancer organizations, we developed our Gift Card Referral Program.

    How Does the Gift Card Referral Program Work?

    Our goal for  the Gift Card Referral Program was to provide  financial support to women in active breast cancer treatment as quickly and easily as possible. Fundamentally, the  program is  a stop-gap measure meant to assist with immediate financial need.

    The requirements to request a gift card are simple and the application itself is half the size of a BLESS grant application. Women need only  to provide a few personal details, tell us what type of gift card they want, and include a verification from one of our referral partners that they are in active breast cancer treatment.

    Unlike a BLESS grant, the gift card application does not  require full  Grant Committee review, which means we can quickly approve the applications and send off the gift cards.

    We offer gift cards to some of the area’s most popular gas, grocery store, and big box retailors chains, including:

    • Chevron
    • Arco
    • Ralphs
    • Vons
    • Albertsons
    • Target
    • Walmart

    Single women can qualify for gift cards totaling up to $300, while women with children or a spouse can receive up to $500.  If need be, they may reapply for gift cards after a year.

    How Did the Trial Go?

    The response to the  gift card trial in February  was immediate and robust!  We quickly gave away 28 gift card grants and used up our initial funding of $8,000.

    At this same time, the coronavirus pandemic was descending on the United States, causing major business shutdowns and high job losses. Some of our donors asked us if the gift card program was in response to the pandemic. It wasn’t, but the need for financial relief is higher now than ever.

    It quickly became clear that the Gift Card Referral Program was a hit, and that it helped us serve a different and wider population of women than our BLESS grants. Therefore, we  rolled out a full-scaled version of the Gift Card Referral Program at the beginning of September.

    What Does the Future Hold for the Gift Card Referral Program?

    Our goal is to get gift cards into the hands of as many women who need them as possible, but the breadth of our reach ultimately  depends on the generosity of our donors.  Not surprisingly, raising money has been uniquely challenging  this year, especially after we made the decision to cancel Purse Bingo, which is our biggest fundraising event of the year.

    In the future,  we would love to be able to offer recipients gift card grants of $300 or $500 over two months. . However, that reality will depend on how much money we can raise. We humbly  ask all our donors to consider giving to our gift card program. This is the best way for donors to make an immediate impact in the breast cancer  community and to support the neediest breast cancer patients  in San Diego.

    Our gift cards give women the means to address  their most pressing needs, whether that means putting food on the table for their families, getting to their medical appointments, or buying necessary everyday living supplies.

    Please consider donating to the SOPFCA Gift Card Referral Program today.


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  • Innovative Fundraiser: Lose a Pound, We Donate a Dollar to SOPFCA

    December 23, 2019

    Dr. Kim Thomas knows that losing weight during the holidays is a big challenge, especially in October when Halloween candy seems to beckon from every corner. However, helping San Diegans lose weight is literally Dr. Kim’s job, so she wasn’t about to let the holidays keep her clients from being healthy!

    Dr. Kim is the founder of Proactive Medical Weight Management, a business with offices in San Diego and Murrieta that provides doctor-supported assistance for anyone seeking to shed pounds and improve their quality of life. Each month, Dr. Kim tries to encourage her patients with fun promotions, contests, drawings, and more. This October, she tried something entirely new—translating each patient’s success into a charitable donation. For the “Tip the Scales Against Breast Cancer” promotion, Dr. Kim donated one dollar for every pound her patients lost during the month.

    Where to Donate

    When deciding which charity to support, Dr. Kim knew she wanted to choose a charity in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “I wanted to find a charity that helped people locally and that made our donation really count,” Dr. Kim told us. After searching for charities with low administrative costs, Dr. Kim chose to donate the collection from her San Diego office to Shades of Pink Foundation California.

    “It was local and personal, and I knew my donation was going to make a difference,” Dr. Kim said.

    This was the first time Dr. Kim had ever connected her patients’ outcomes with a charitable donation. In the past, she’d given patients discounts on injections, like Vitamin B12, or entered them into raffles when they showed progress on their weight loss goals. Would her patients care about the donation? Would it help them stay on track during October?

    Almost 2,000 Pounds Lost

    The answer was an overwhelming yes! By the end of the month, Dr. Kim was able to write a check for over $800 to SOPFCA. “My patients felt great about the promotion,” Dr. Kim remembers. “Not only was it exciting for them to step on the scale and see that they’d lost weight, but all that hard work helped generate money for a good cause. It was an extra sweet reward.”
    The promotion also gave Dr. Kim and her staff a personal boost. Between her two offices, Dr. Kim’s patients lost almost 2,000 pounds. “We helped our patients lose almost a ton of weight across both locations in a single month,” Dr. Kim explained. “It made us all feel really good around the office.”

    Why This Donation Meant So Much

    For Dr. Kim, the decision to support SOPFCA was also a personal one. She lost her husband to cancer and her boyfriend lost his wife to breast cancer. “When my husband was first diagnosed, it felt like my life was coming apart at the seams,” Dr. Kim admits. “I felt like I had no control over anything and all I could do was to be in the moment with my husband every step of the way.”

    Dr. Kim explains that she and her husband were fortunate to have insurance, a strong network of family and friends, and accommodating employers so she didn’t have to worry about the financial impact of her husband’s diagnosis as much as many others in a similar situation. “SOPFCA helps women who were not as blessed as us,” she says, “and that’s why this promotion was so meaningful.”

    Proactive Medical Weight Management donates to a number of charities throughout the year. Asked if she would be repeating the Tip the Scales Against Breast Cancer promotion next year, Dr. Kim replied that she is definitely considering it.

    When she isn’t helping fellow San Diegans become slimmer and healthier, Dr. Kim loves hiking with her boyfriend and spending time with their four children. Her goal is to one day hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail.

    Here at Shades of Pink Foundation California, we want to thank Dr. Kim for her innovative fundraiser and the donation she provided. Her story shows us that businesses across San Diego can find fun and personalized ways to fundraise for the causes they believe in.

    If you are looking to shed some pounds and want the guidance of a fully credentialed doctor who can offer a variety of therapeutic options, learn more about Proactive Medical Weight Management in San Diego.

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