Shelter for Cancer Families continues to look after vulnerable patients amid COVID-19 outbreak

Hunter Marrow

A Shelter For Cancer Families charges no fees to the families it serves, made possible through donor and volunteer support. (Courtesy A Shelter For Cancer Families)

Though it has had to adjust some of its operations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Shelter for Cancer Families is still going.

Even during the viral pandemic, the nonprofit has continued offering housing, help navigating the health care system and celebrations for clients.

“We’re staying incredibly busy, I’ll tell you that,” CEO and Executive Director Monica Agostinelli said.

Through the end of April, A Shelter for Cancer Families served 28 families, up from the same point last year, Agostinelli said. In 2019, the nonprofit helped 52 families, equating to 1,188 nights of housing.

“That is the more significant statistic to us because some … families stay with us for a while,” Agostinelli said.

Families served by the nonprofit are not charged, with costs paid for through a combination of donors and the nonprofit’s 80 volunteers, who volunteered over 6,500 hours in 2019, Agostinelli said.

Located at 4115 Drake St., Ste. 4, the nonprofit organization has focused for the last 19 years on addressing the needs of families affected by cancer.

Its initial efforts were spent mainly on sarcoma, when the nonprofit was known as the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation, named after founder Tom Amschwand. The organization in 2017 became A Shelter for Cancer Families, and it shifted its mission to focus efforts on helping families affected by all types of cancer.

The nonprofit is housing 14 families as of May 6, with enough capacity for 15 and a waiting list of 190 families, Agostinelli said. Earlier last year, the nonprofit was renting out five apartments, but in July, the nonprofit acquired the complex on Drake Street, which can provide 5,400 nights of housing per year.

Each apartment unit in the Drake Street complex has its own washer, dryer and living space, which has proven to be a boon during an era of social distancing, Agostinelli said. Staff has upped cleaning procedures around the complex.

“Due to the amazing vision and thoughtfulness of our services and property by our founder as well as our board, we’re able to do things exactly as we’ve always done,” Agostinelli said. “We’re very proud that we’ve thought these things through.”

A Shelter for Cancer Families

4115 Drake St., Ste. 4, Houston

www.cancerfamilies.org



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About the Author: Hunter Marrow

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