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Our View: Circle of Hope in good hands

Posted: January 22, 2011 9:19 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2011 4:30 a.m.

There’s a new day dawning at the Circle of Hope, a Santa Clarita Valley nonprofit that helps those diagnosed with breast cancer.

The organization celebrated its eighth anniversary last week, and as it enters a new year, it does so under the capable leadership of Executive Director Ray Tippet, who replaced former executive director and founder Colleen Shaffer.

The entire community owes Shaffer a debt of gratitude. A 12-year survivor of breast cancer, Shaffer literally started Circle of Hope from scratch.

Today, the organization helps up to 150 people a year in the SCV.

It’s important to note that Circle Hope isn’t a research organization. Instead, it seeks to provide emotional support and financial assistance for medical expenses for uninsured and under-insured individuals with breast cancer.

Circle of Hope offers three main programs: second opinion assistance; financial medical aid to help with things such as insurance co-pays and deductibles for medications and pharmacy expenses; and the Compassionate Angel program, which offers emotional support to breast cancer patients.

Clearly, Shaffer is a woman of both compassion and vision. The fact that she founded a nonprofit to help other cancer patients while battling cancer herself is nothing short of remarkable.

What’s even more remarkable is that the organization provides such a wide array of services operating on a budget of approximately $68,000 per year, with the majority of that funding coming through donations and charitable events.

Still, as much as Shaffer has accomplished, the time eventually comes for new leadership. Enter Tippet.

Tippet is the perfect person to both carry on Shaffer’s vision and to take it to new heights.

He has been involved in nonprofit work for the past 24 years, and has lived in the SCV for the past 18. He knows this community.

What makes him especially qualified is that he has seen the effects of breast cancer firsthand. His wife is a breast cancer survivor. That gives him a unique sense of compassion and insight into the financial and emotional issues facing breast cancer patients.

Already, the addition of Tippet is beginning to pay dividends. This year, the organization is set to launch its PINK program (Promote, Instruct, Network and Knowledge).

PINK is the organization’s education outreach effort that will focus on providing a curriculum for local high school students, as well as educational programs for college students.

The need for insight, compassion and education has never been more urgent than it is right now. Breast cancer remains the top cancer among women in the United States.

In an interview with The Signal Editorial Board late last year, Tippet said one-in-eight women nationwide will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

The Circle of Hope has done a great job making an orderly, planned transition to new leadership under Tippet.

Thanks to that careful planning, the organization stands poised to continue to grow and provide its much-needed services well into the future.


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