There are many ways you could measure the success of Angel Foundation programs. We tend to quote hard numbers for our Financial Assistance program: we can tell you the number of families who received aid this month or this year, the amount of money those families received, or the amount of money we grant each month or each year. We can (and do) quote the rising costs of medicine, the numbers of applications received, and the percent of applicants funded.

On the education side of things, we typically talk about the number of families who attend our FaCT (Facing Cancer Together) programs, or the number of hours of planned programming each month or each year. We describe the happy faces of children at Kid’s Kamp, or the thankful words of parents that attend monthly support groups.

There is another way to measure Angel Foundation success that is lesser-known, but perhaps, much more powerful. We know, beyond a doubt, that our programs are worthwhile and successful when we see current and former patients lining up to give back to this organization. About one-third of our current volunteer base is made up of former patients and/or their family members. They come back because they are eager to share the same caring support and encouragement they received with future patients and their families.

Even more amazingly, patients who are still in rough situations step up to help where they canone volunteer, Karen, occasionally spends time during “healthy” weeks volunteering at the Angel Foundation office. Often teenage children of current cancer patients will volunteer to become “Teen Mentors,” leading as role models for their peers at events like Kid’s Kamp and FaCT meetings.

Other participants donate yearly to help fund our programming, long after they have been in remission and no longer need the supportive services our organization provides. One former financial aid recipient, who was still struggling financially to get back on his feet sent in a few dollars in an envelope with a note promising to donate more as he was able he wanted to start giving in some way, and it was all he could afford at the time.

Candace Chase, a volunteer at the Angels and Eagles Golf Classic this year, began volunteering with her boyfriend after he received assistance during a bout with cancer last year. She explained that giving back to Angel Foundation was a decision they made for multiple reasons. “It’s nice because you aren’t just giving to a bigger cause,” she explained, “you know the help goes directly to the people who need it, even if it is just a $25 gift card for gas.”

When we see former patients or family members like Candace, returning to donate financially or volunteer at events, we know the extent to which Angel Foundation has impacted their lives during their cancer experience. If they believe in our programs this strongly, some of those numerical measurements of success don’t seem to matter quite as much these people are the proof that there is a need, and that our programs are making a difference.