It all starts with a Bag of Hope – a promise to cancer patients that they’re not alone in their fight. What looks like a simple gift bag on the outside bestows good wishes and specials gifts made from folks in the recipient’s own community.
This is the first step in Byron-based Kaleidoscope’s mission. After a bag has been delivered, the Kaleidoscope Connection Team reaches out to the cancer patient and offers support –a home-cooked meal, a weekly phone call or an invitation to a support group.
“In our 10 years, we’ve probably delivered 750 Bags of Hope,” said Jan Page, Kaleidoscope founder and executive director. “It’s the first step in making a connection with some affected by cancer. Cancer can be a very lonely journey. A lot of people don’t know how to offer support, and that’s where we come in. We want them to know they don’t have to do this alone.”
The nonprofit Kaleidoscope organization runs entirely on the passion of its volunteers. Page, a cancer survivor, said the Kaleidoscope volunteer base numbers between 100 and 200, depending on the time of year. And to thank them and members of the community who have been touched by Kaleidoscope and its mission, Page and her fellow directors are planning a special fall festival to share their 10-year milestone with all of East County.
The festival, which Kaleidoscope is calling A Perfect 10, will be held Saturday, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kaleidoscope Center, located behind the Byron United Methodist Church, 14671 Byron Highway. Festivities include pony rides, a cake walk, bounce houses, live entertainment, labyrinth walks, a barbecue and a host of vendors selling homemade goods ideal for holiday gifts. The event also features $5 haircuts from Supercuts from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for children 12 and younger, plus a raffle and silent auction.
“Kaleidoscope’s success can’t be credited to one person or even a select few,” Page said. “This movement has been supported by the community, and we want to share our success with everyone, so we’re putting together an event that has a little bit for everyone. And of course, we want to share our message with anyone who doesn’t know about Kaleidoscope. There are more people out there for us to reach out to. We just need to know who they are.”
Bags of Hope are distributed on a referral basis. Kaleidoscope processes the request and builds a personalized gift bag stuffed with goodies and treats to match that cancer patient’s personality.
Debbie Hundoble, a member of the Kaleidoscope Advisory Board, remembers how much it meant to receive a Bag of Hope from Kaleidoscope seven years ago when she battled breast cancer.
“When you are first diagnosed with cancer, you have no idea what to do,” Hundoble said. “Your friends don’t know what to do either, and some of them keep their distance, so you feel isolated. You’ve just received the worst news and you feel like you have no one in your corner.
“But when Kaleidoscope comes into your life, you realize there are people who want to help. They’re complete strangers, but they open their arms to you. It becomes like a family. It’s heartwarming to know there are people out there who care.”
For more information about Kaleidoscope, call 925-634-1411, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kaleidoscopehope.org.