We Don’t Think Cancer Should Drain Your Bank Account

A patient at Central Vermont Medical Center not long ago was diagnosed with cancer.

The treatment called for dental work, including dentures, before the cancer could be addressed. The treatment plan did not include replacing the patient’s teeth. And neither did his health plan.

So the hospital turned to Branches of Hope, an affiliated fund that directly supports patients with extraordinary expenses while they’re being treated for cancer.

Branches of Hope paid for his dentures.

Sometimes life deals such a bad hand. Thank goodness an organization like Branches of Hope is there to get your back.

But, like so many organizations, Branches of Hope for years got by on a shoestring. Or, more accurately, it got by on a bake sale budget.

Four years ago, someone around here had the bright idea that National Life Group ought to host a music festival on our back lawn.

It was essentially a challenge to the company to put its money where its values are: To do good in the community.

And so was born the Do Good Fest. A group of employees volunteered to make this bright idea an actual music festival.

Food trucks were organized. Someone suggested we invite a bunch of nonprofits to come over and help tell their stories. We dubbed it the Nonprofit Village. A great local brew pub signed up to pour a few beers. And a partnership was forged with a local independent radio station, The Point, to help us sign up a national act.

The only question that remained was who we should support. Heads were scratched. Meetings were held. Ideas were offered. And then someone mentioned that National Life had already made a big investment a few years earlier to help build a cancer treatment center at the hospital. What about doing something for the patients?

So we had ourselves a cause.

And now, three years later, the Do Good Fest has become a fixture on the regional summer festival circuit. We don’t charge admission. We ask the audience to make a $20 donation toward Branches of Hope. We pay the cost of staging the festival. All the proceeds, along with a gift from the National Life Group Foundation, go to Branches of Hope.

In 2014, 1,500 people came and we donated $11,000.

Last year, 3,000 people showed up and we contributed $15,000.

And on Saturday, 5,200 people descended on our hilltop home. And we raised $30,000.

Yep, in three years $56,000 for cancer patients to pay for dentures. Or to cover a heating bill while they can’t work. Or to buy a tank of gas to get to their next treatment.

Maybe they can cancel the next bake sale over at the hospital.

We are stunned by such generosity. We are gratified that so many people share our cause. And we invite others to find their own cause and do good in the world.