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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

A Shelter for Cancer Families (ASCF)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Community Foundations, Homeless & Housing, Housing & Shelter, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: A Shelter for Cancer Families (ASCF) provides tangible support & housing creating a sanctuary where cancer families can heal together. In addition to the temporary housing we offer to out-of-town cancer families, ASCF also provides tangible support in the form of navigation services, visits & holiday celebrations to families affected by cancer in Houston.

Results: ASCF provides more than 1800 nights of free housing to cancer patients and their families as well as navigation and other tangible support services to these and other families in the Houston area EVERY YEAR.

Target demographics: provide free tangible support in the Texas Medical Center to families affected by cancer based on their needs, regardless of age, cancer type, treatment status or income

Direct beneficiaries per year: Provide more than 1800 nights of free housing to out of town patients and families seeking cancer care in Houston.

Geographic areas served: Houston, Texas

Programs: Temporary Housing for out-of-town Cancer Families & Navigation Services for all Families affected by Cancer in the Houston area. In doing so, ASCF has created a sanctuary where cancer families can heal together.

Community Stories

62 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The ASCF apartment is beautiful, along with the amenities in and out of the apartment. Everything you would need to live comfortably is provided. The swimming pool/jacuzzi/lounge/ bbq area was awesome!! The gym is open 24hrs along with the rec Center with pool table, TVs, sitting area and free coffee/tea.

This non profit organization blesses families with these apartments and the families should maintain it better. In my apartment the sofas were so dirty with food and drink stains, as if they just wiped their hands on them, I couldn’t even sit on them. The dining room chairs cushions were just as bad , if not worse. Underneath the sofas and bed there was trash like it was never swept. These are messes made by the families NOT by ASCF.

Families when you are given a gift, you cherish, appreciate and take care of it, so others can do the same. I give ASCF 5 stars cause I could see the love behind their gift inspite of the irresponsibility of some families. Thank you ASCF for your gracious gift.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

When we found out that my 10 year old had relapsed with osteosarcoma wey were devastated. We had to leave our home 6 hours away to come get new treatment that required us to stay in the area. This put so much stress on Victor and our family since we knew we had to come back to living in hotels, checking in and out constantly, packing and moving our stuff from one place to another. We found out about this amazing organization ASCF and couldn't believe what I was reading. We applied a day before we left home and we received the unexpected phone call from Jennifer that she could get us into an apartment the same day. Wow!! "What a relief" is short for what we actually felt. My husband, younger son and myself were all sleeping in the same couch at the hospital because we couldn't afford a hotel. We received more than expected and Jennifer made sure we had everything we needed. She went above and beyond explaining what they are here for and how they can help us in any way possible. This place is amazing because we can actually take the shuttle and save us $12 per day in hospital parking. I am able to cook homemade food per my son's request and keep a well balanced diet instead of surviving on fast food like before. This truly is more than a blessing for our family because we can be at peace while our son receives treatment and that is a very important part in this journey. Victor is more than happy and even though he is going through intensive chemotherapy for the second time within a year, he says he loves it here and is happy to be here. We can gladly say this place is more than a home away from home. Thank you ASCF and for all who contribute to make this possible for our family and many other families in need. You have no idea how grateful we are for this organization and we hope it continues for many more decades with the help of those who donate to make this possible.

1 Jay A.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

A Shelter for Cancer Families was truly a blessing for my situation. I am very fortunate in the sense that my cancer has left me capable of taking care of myself. I don’t have the constant need for a caregiver to look after me and help me with my daily activities. Unfortunately, most of the housing available for cancer patients requires you to have a caregiver with you 24/7 in order to stay at their facilities. As I began going down the list of options on Joe’s List, my options were quickly reduced from many to very few.
I applied to the few organizations that would allow me to, but unfortunately no one had space and I was placed on waiting lists for those few groups. I would be driving nearly 1,600 miles to Houston and spending over two months away from home and I still didn’t have housing secured for my stay during treatment.
I managed to get a reduced cost hotel room through the American Cancer Society, but I only had a room on a weekly basis and had the possibility that I would have to change hotels each week. My treatments at the MD Anderson Proton Center were going to take 8 weeks, and I knew changing hotels was going to get tiring soon. They were also not able to offer the discounted rooms for the entirety of my treatments, leaving me on my own for the remaining few weeks of my schedule.
Fortunately, after two weeks of hotel life, I received a phone call from Melissa at ASCF letting me know that they had an opening and I could get into the apartment immediately. I cannot describe the amount of stress and anxiety that disappeared when I received that phone call. I was no longer burdened with having to pack up my stuff into a rental car to move every weekend. I could buy more than just a week’s worth of groceries at a time without worrying about throwing out everything in the refrigerator at the end of the week. I also had the security of a gated community with limited access to the apartments when I came back from my daily treatments. I would now be only a few minutes away from the Proton Center and no longer had to make the daily commute from Katy, Sugarland, or wherever I would end up before.
This organization takes steps to ensure the patients and their families staying in the ASCF apartments feel at home during their time in Houston. Any issues that came up with the apartment were quickly handled through Jennifer and the building management. The ASCF volunteers sacrifice their own time to help their guests celebrate the major holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even though I was by myself in the apartment, I never felt like I was on my own. I never took advantage of the Patient Navigators available to me during my stay, but I appreciated the knowledge that they were there and available if needed.
When I was first diagnosed with my cancer I was completely blindsided and overwhelmed. Knowing that there are organizations such as ASCF helping patients get through such an extremely difficult experience gives me an amazing amount of hope moving forward as a cancer survivor. As I stated before, ASCF was a blessing for me and deserve a great amount of support to continue providing aid to other survivors and their families.

1 Gina L.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was so blessed to find ASCF. Not only did they provide us with housing, but the navigator program is amazing. A Shelter for Cancer Families was so thorough and at a VERY hard time in our lives made the process much easier. I especially am thankful for the great questions and note-taking during the appointments because it is an easy way to share information with family. The housing had everything we needed and the support made healing much more hopeful.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

ASCF has made it more financially feasible to continue my quarterly screenings by returning to Houston within the very important two year window post treatments, after moving to Illinois. I was miraculously declared well on Friday, May 13th, 2016 after receiving my cancer treatments at MDA in Houston where I was very fortunate to live. I received screenings every three months as part of my follow up plan. When a year and half into those follow up appointments, my husband received a job offer in Illinois after being out of work for 4 years (a blessing in some regard as he could take care of me and our son who was 2 years old at the time that I was diagnosed), I was concerned about where I would receive checkups during that delicate two year post treatment window. Traveling from Illinois was not going to be cheap, and after my husband's unemployment for so long, and my unemployment during treatment, I worried about the financial hits of traveling to Houston, yet also felt uncomfortable not continuing my care with my MDA team in Houston at least for that two year window. Missy Bellinger is truly an angel, and since moving in October 2017, has provided generous assistance to fund my flights to Houston so that I can receive my checkups at MDA and receive peace of mind, which is truly the greatest gift of all. Thank you Missy for all you do! How lucky and blessed you are to have such a clear calling. You create an incredible comforting impact to individuals' and families' lives which get turned upside down. I pray for the day when your job is done because, in large part due to your efforts and other organizations like ASCF, this disease is no more.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

It never crossed my mind that we had to leave our beloved island, Puerto Rico, to receive medical treatment for any reason. But, one day before Hurricane Maria hit our island, my husband was diagnosed with Soft Tissue Sarcoma . After the scourge of the hurricane, everything was devastated on our island. There were no essential services such as water, power or communication. There was no access to specialized medical services or studies. So there was no other option than to leave the island, hoping to get adequate treatment for his condition. It is very stressful to have to deal with a cancer diagnosis, not have medical insurance to cover the treatment in the United States and as if it was not enough, have to pay for a safe place to stay. And all this at the same time. But an angel sent by God, contacted us with Missy Bellinger who welcomed us from the first moment. When we learned that housing was free of charge, we could not believe it. It was great relief. It has been a great blessing to be able to count on their support. One of the most important things about ASCF is that you are able to stay with your family and also, your friends are welcome to visit and stay with you. In addition, it has a group of exceptional volunteers that make you feel at home. Since we are here, we have never felt alone, helpless or burdened. It is not simply the structure that shelters you, but the arms that wrap you when you need it most. The people of ASCF celebrate with you every special occasion and every important date. And not only do they provide care to the patient, but also to their entire family. God bless these special people for us and for all the families that they have helped for so long.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

A Shelter for Cancer Families has generously offered us housing twice over the past 3 months as we travelled to Houston from New England for my son's osteosarcoma treatments. Many thanks to Missy Bellinger and her teams for their help and hospitality during our travels.

2 TnBarry1

Client Served

Rating: 5

If not for this organization, we would have had to stop coming to M.D. Anderson long ago. Now into her fifth year of the fight and every three months return.

Previous Stories
4

Client Served

Rating: 5

We have been the fortunate recipients of the service this organization provides. Without them, I honestly do not know how we could have managed to be together during my wife's surgeries in Houston for a rare sarcoma. Traveling from Tn is quite an expense but not having to add housing to the travel was not only a financial blessing but also a stress relieving blessing for both my wife and I. The housing has been wonderful and the staff at the apt complex super. The main contact we have had at AMSCHWAND, Melissa Ballinger, has been great in communications and more than just helpful but really goes the extra mile.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Thanks to Missy and ASCF foundation we were able to have a home away from home. What a wonderful and generous gift to families traveling from out of town to receive care at MD Anderson. By offering a clean and welcoming apartment free of charge is truly a gift when juggling the cost of travel and medical bills. The apartment is fully stocked with kitchenware such as plates, utensils, pots/pans, and paper goods along with a washer and dryer. It is located near the Med Center and has a free shuttle to transport you there. The apartment complex even has a gym, pool, and amazing outdoor seating area. Granted, it snowed when we were there so we could not take advantage of the cool (both literally and figuratively) outdoor amenities, but it was great for a photo opportunity because it is not often one sees snow in TX on pool chairs, umbrella, and palm trees. :) We felt the freezing temps were a positive sign since I had a successful cryoablation procedure where they froze the tumor. :).
I would highly recommend ASCF for anyone traveling to Houston for treatment. Missy and ASCF will take special care of you and your family. Truly a gem!
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! ~The Rayner Family

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Just want to say thank you

Dear ASCF ,

I wish to thank you for the support and help you provided, during our stay at one of your facilities. For both my daughter and myself was a blessing to have such a nice place to stay and rest during my daughters post surgery recuperation time.
All this made our stay easier for me and Natalia, the apartment has a convenient location near the Medical Center. Both Missy and Volunteers are nice and helpful in providing for every need possible. Well organized, clean and includes all that you need to make your stay as comfortable as possible. I recommend this non-profit organization to anyone who needs a safe, comfortable,convenient and so well kept [lace during your medical needs.
thanks so much ,

Denise and Natalia























3

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter had just been diagnosed with osteosarcoma and was in the midst of chemotherapy when my son relapsed with leukemia this summer. He had exhausted all treatment options in Ohio, which is where our family lives.

I was overwhelmed by our medical circumstances and found the prospect of travel to Houston after hurricane Harvey to be completely daunting. ASCF provided a home for us when hotels were scarce. A board member graciously met us after leasing hours with the keys, because our flight arrived late. With rental cars being in such demand after the hurricane, the free shuttle transportation to the hospitals was a godsend. ASCF helped us to navigate this part of a truly difficult journey.

We were so grateful, after long and stressful hospital days, to be able to come "home" and be together as a family. The kindness and compassion of everyone that we encountered helped us to relax, and focus on the tests and decisions that we had to make.

While everyone understands the enormous impact of direct medical costs in cancer treatment, the non-medical costs related to travel and having meals out are significant as well. ALCF provided us with free housing which is huge, but by providing a kitchen, this permitted our family to cook, which is both more home-like and economical. While living in another city for cancer treatment or a clinical trial that are not available at home, neither one is a small thing. We are enormously grateful.

Much love from the RamerNation!

1 Paige Gumm

Client Served

Rating: 5

ASCF has been a HUGE blessing to my family. My 9 year old son has been battling Osteosarcoma for 3 years now and we decided to move treatment and care to MD Anderson in March of this year. We live 4 hours away in East Texas and were driving back and forth and getting hotel rooms, which adds up quickly. Then we were introduced to the amazing Missy! Our angel, who offered us a place to stay with no cost to our family. Being able to have our own place to stay while we are here, keep our things so we don't have to travel back and forth with them weekly, having a place that feels like home...it's been a huge blessing and has taken some of the stress off of me. Both of my sons love being at the apartment and think that it's "super cool" we have a home here in Houston that has a pool!
I am forever thankful and grateful for ASCF and all that they do!! I don't know what we would do without them.
With great appreciation and gratitude,
Paige Gumm

2 Brian A. B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son Damon was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma Bone Cancer January 31, 2014 at the tender age of 9. He had a massive tumor in his left arm in the humerus bone. One moment life is great, your child is just being a kid and then suddenly the next you find your child is suddenly thrust in a battle for his life. Such was our plight.

Damon became very astute quickly and sadly grew up and matured much too quickly. He went from wondering when he'd have time to ride his bike to wondering if his counts were even high enough for him to go outside. He immersed himself into understanding what was going on. He always wanted to be part of the conversation and be told directly what was happening. We never kept anything from him. He had a limb-salvage surgery to save his arm. He fought cancer hard for a year. On Jan. 31, 2015 he was declared cancer free. However, his reign of freedom would be short-lived as just 10 months later the cancer returned in his arm. This time, we would not be able to save his arm and to save his live, we had to amputate.

It was at this point his mother and I made the decision to move his treatment to M.D. Anderson in Houston. After much research, the choice to move was easy to make. However, the option to do so was not. It was not just a matter of how would the treatment go, it would be how in the world would be able to pull it off? We live in San Antonio (4 hours away), so any time he would go to the hospital they would have to stay in Houston, pay for gas to get there, etc. We were already drowning in a sea of bills from hospitals, doctors, etc. So we had no idea how we would pay for all this. Then....suddenly an Angel appeared in the form of Missy Bellinger from ASCF. She and her team at ASCF met with Lisa and Damon and immediately helped us by providing a place for them to stay whenever he receives treatment. This has turned into over a year now and we are still a ASCF family and they have still provided us a place to stay via a wonderful apartment (close by the hospital with shuttle service).

It's not just the apartment they provide. They give SO much more. Missy has attended doctor meetings with us to help us sort through treatment. Taken notes and transcribed them; they have taken Damon to places to help him forget about cancer, hospital, etc if even for a few hours. Their care, their love, their compassion to Damon, our family and the other families we have come in contact with can not be measured. We are not just recipients of their services, we are a family. We have met many of the other families they assist and together we have stopped being just one family dealing with cancer, now we are a HUGE family coming together to support each other.

Honestly, I don't know how we would have come this far without ASCF and Missy and their team. I don't make that general statement loosely. I honestly mean, I have no idea how we would have done it without them. Their love, support, care has allowed us to do the one thing we MUST do which is to focus on Damon and our family. There are many organizations out there; I know. But with ASCF team, it's not just a matter of holding our hand and helping us...it's a matter of lifting us up and relieving us. They are our 'Earthly Angels' and when we pray every night to God to lift the cancer from Damon and all other kids, we thank him for the people he placed in our path. I always say, this is certainly not a journey I would ever want to make....but God sure has made it interesting.

**SIDE NOTE**
I met a lady in Ireland via twitter when Chris Evans (a.k.a. Captain America) tweeted about Damon. Her sister was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, but the treatment in Ireland was not great. I helped her get into M.D. Anderson. She called and said they got in and would be there for a week and if I could make a recommendation on inexpensive hotels because they didn't have a lot of money. Instead of offering suggestions, I put her in contact with the ASCF. It wasn't easy, but in a matter of a day or two, the ASCF got her a place and put them up, thus saving them expenses and giving them peace of mind. That is an organization that cares!!!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This charity has served both me and my sister the both times her and i have needed to travel from northern Ireland to Houston for hospital appointments in mdAnderson cancer centre. Without this charity we both would have been so lost but due to the hard work and support from this charity they have served us both extremely well and we could not have done our journey with out them. Many thanks God bless

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Acca was diagnosed with lymph node cancer that was a metasizizedfrom head and neck cancer in Febuary
We came to MD Anderson for treatment
Went thru 3 courses of chemotherapy , 9hrs day plus Dr visits ,clinics ,Labs biopsies
More scans ,Dr visits ,
clinic
Scheduled for radiation Mask .
Starting 34 Days of head and neck Radiation
Loosing weight ,Radiation Burn
Tired ,soft diet to Liquid. Trying to keep from having a Feeding tube
Our stay at the hotels were very expensive also.having to eat out wasn't working due to radiation burn .tryjng to keep from feeding tube ,we can now cook & refrigerate soft & liquid meals
Having an Apartment lifted a major Burden off of us
We are very grateful for the Aschwand foundation & their extradinary work for cancer!
As we were going thru this journey talking to many cancer patients with like problems . We are very grateful for foundations that give to the care of patients themselves. We could not have gone thru this life changing disease without the foundations help
We are forever grateful
Missy was so thoughtful ,caring & efficient .We hope others will give so cancer pts and families may have Hope without being so burdened with expenses.
With Love ,Acca

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Dear Melissa,
I wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you did for me, my friends and my family while in Texas. I could NOT have had the open heart surgery without your help. I hope that you and your family are well.
Much love,
Jennifer Gardella

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

ASCF & Melissa Bellinger,
What a wonderful person God create!!
This mold cannot ever be replaced.
I truly appreciate the love and caring attitude that you friends and family showed to my sister during the difficult time of her illness and death.
Miriam's family would not be able to repay you even for the least of what you have done.
May God continue to bless and prosper this great organization.
With fondest regards to you and your family & friends.
Love, Estherleen

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I will forever be grateful for the ASCF. I travel from Fort Worth monthly for treatment of leiomyosarcoma. My daughter found the foundation online and contacted Missy who always have everything ready for us when we arrive. They definitely make this journey easier for me and my family. Im so thankful

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 16 yr old son was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma stage 4 in March 2016. He has gone his 54weeks chemo plan, including 25 sessions of radiation. We now need to travel from florida to TX several times to participate in a clinical trial. I was referred to Missy by a fellow fighter. I can't that I the both of them enough! Traveling especially for health care for sick child is extremely stressful! She lifted a lot of that burden by providing a lovely home and shuttles to and from the hospital. I can't thank you enough. We are actually looking forward to our next visit ❤️

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a patient travelling from out of state for my cancer treatment, I didn't realize how fast the expenses would start adding up. Unfortunately, these associated travel expenses are not covered by medical insurance and have to be paid out of pocket.
I found the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation through a search on the American Cancer Society website and submitted an application for housing assistance for a treatment visit to Houston. Fortunately for me, there was an apartment that had become available for the duration of my stay. I can't begin to express how wonderful it was for me to have a clean, safe, home-like environment to return to after each day's appointments wrapped up.
For me as a patient, finding Melissa and the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation was truly a blessing. There are definitely angels among us and this group of donors and volunteers are proof of their existence.