Twelve months ago, I dreamed The Mayday Foundation would raise $15,000 and help three Thurston County families pay their household expenses while a parent copes with a cancer diagnosis. This 2018 goal felt attainable yet a stretch for a new non-profit organization that also needed a website, legal structure, mission statement, tax exempt status, a board of directors and social media channels.  Oh, and The Mayday Foundation needed to fundraise, identify families seeking support and develop systems to make decisions and track payments.

Enter the Mission

Through April 2018, I was still a regular visitor to the Providence Regional Cancer System’s Lacey clinic My every-three-weeks visits allowed me to talk through the organization’s direction and celebrate progress with people who knew the needs the best. Nurses and social workers were ideal sounding boards along with outstanding support from my family, board of directors and advisory council.  In the end, we settled on a mission statement that seems to resonate with donors, families, and health care workers.

The Mayday Foundation provides immediate, practical support to families when a parent is coping with cancer and raising kids at home. We believe no family should become homeless or be thrown into bankruptcy as a result of a parent’s cancer diagnosis.

Our goal is to prevent financial toxicity associated with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. Paying for rent, utilities, gas and groceries is a practical way to make sure our neighbors are not forced to move or file for bankruptcy. 

“Your program kept the lights on and gave us hope in a very dark time. The only reason we didn’t lose everything is due to the kindness and generosity of The Mayday Foundation, family and friends,” said a mom of three whose husband has healed and is back in the workforce.

2018 By The Numbers

Funds are paid directly to third parties including landlords, mortgage companies and utility providers.

Thanks to more than 150 donors we blew past my initial fundraising goal. Through 2018, you have graciously donated more than $100,000 to support the mission of The Mayday Foundation.  Whether it’s a $25 monthly donation or a gift that supports a family for a few months, every dollar heads out to meet a local family’s basic needs.

The pie chart shows how funds have been spent according to a family’s greatest need. More than half of the outgoing funds offset housing expenses.

“We were shocked when my sister was diagnosed with cancer. Being a single mom and unable to work much during her treatment, this diagnosis could have been financially devastating. When The Mayday Foundation stepped in to help with rent, car repairs and other expenses we were able to breathe a little easier. I’m not sure what we would have done without Mayday through this trying time for our family,” said the sister of a breast cancer patient.

Raising Dollars, Finding Donors

Thank you!  It feels simplistic to just use those two words but it’s heartfelt. You can see it in the quotes sprinkled throughout this article – parents are so grateful and appreciative. Did you know 85% of Mayday families have never asked for financial support before? I frequently hear deep breaths before a parent cautiously asks “can you help me with my mortgage this month?” I wish you could all hear the outpouring of appreciation, and often tears of gratitude, when I simply say “yes.”  And, it’s because of the gracious donations each of you make to support the mission.

I feel privileged to be the conduit that matches generous donors with families in need. I am sincerely grateful to have created an outlet for these connections to be made. In 2018, more than 150 people graciously gave money to help 14 Thurston and Grays Harbor county families avoid financial toxicity as a result of a parent’s cancer diagnosis. Collectively, we have ensured 32 kids have stayed in their homes while their parent copes with cancer.  Donors, you are making this happen. Your gifts are impacting the lives of local families and changing the direction their financial future is headed. Thank you!

To view our honor roll of individual donors, corporate contributions and foundation gifts, as well as donations made in honor or in memory of someone, click here.

Loving Volunteers

Melanie Kallas Ricklefs is our inaugural Volunteer of the Year recipient.

A tremendous amount of love goes out to Mayday’s volunteers.  As an all-volunteer organization, many important folks have been cheerleaders, organizers, drivers, listeners, leaders and just all around great people. However, we would like to recognize one special volunteer – Melanie Kallas Ricklefs – with an extra round of applause.

A breast cancer thriver, Melanie has looked for ways to contribute her time and talents to The Mayday Foundation. Melanie shares honest articles about her cancer treatment with readers. She was integral to the May Day basket fundraiser and also served as an errand-runner during our busy Holiday Healing adopt-a-family program. Melanie’s support on the Advisory Council also makes an impact.  Finally, at her daughter’s urging, she conceptualized a new support group for children of cancer patients. Thanks to Dr. Cobie Whitten who pulled together the right people to turn the idea into reality. We look forward to announcing the first meeting soon, coordinated by SoundCareKids. Please join me in congratulating Melanie as our inaugural Volunteer of the Year.

Looking Forward

MB was one of our first Mayday families. We’re happy to report this military hero and his family are thriving. Donors, thanks for keeping the lights on while he healed from a stem cell transplant.

Every well-run business sets goals and makes future plans and non-profit organizations are no different. As we look ahead to 2019, it’s with excitement and enthusiasm. Our board-approved budget continues our vision of saying “yes” when families need help. We expect about 50% of distributions to head toward housing expenses with the remainder split between utilities, gas and groceries. We are also identifying regional and national grant opportunities to diversify funding. Expect to hear about successes on social media and via our newsletter.

Our fundraising plans include a return of the May Day baskets as well as a repeat of the Holiday Healing adopt-a-family program in December. You will also see The Mayday Foundation added as a third partner with Providence and Capital Bicycling Club for the Two County Double Metric Century Ride in late June.  More details to follow!

Above all, 2019 will see The Mayday Foundation continue to:

  • Lift up local families when a parent is coping with cancer and raising kids at home,
  • Be a professional steward of donated dollars, and
  • Look for creative ways to advance the organization’s mission.

“We are so thankful for The Mayday Foundation. If it wasn’t for your generosity we would probably be on the verge of our home being foreclosed and our electricity turned off. I’m not good at expressing my gratitude but please believe us – we are blessed with everyone that is a part of The Mayday Foundation. Thank you so much,” said the spouse of a non-smoking lung cancer patient.

Thank you for being a part of The Mayday Foundation’s first year.  All cheerleaders are welcome! Find us on Facebook (@themaydayfoundation), Instagram (@maydayfndn) and Twitter (@maydayfndn). Reach out with your comments, ideas, feedback and questions to


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