As often occurs, good things result from bad situations. Such is the case with the creation of the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society (MCHS). Yoli Vernon Bell was 50 years old and knew first-hand the devastating impact cancer can and does have on individuals and their family members: Yoli's mother died at the age of 51 from Hodgkin's Lymphoma; an aunt died from Leukemia; two cousins died from Breast Cancer; and her nephew survived Testicular Cancer; plus her niece is coping with the diagnosis of Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. (her niece continues to fight her 3rd battle with Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma by engaging in clinical trials and continuing chemotherapy treatments.)
And, if this exposure wasn't enough to bring the harsh reality of cancer's impact to one's life, she was destined to experience her own reality in January 2000, when a tumor was discovered in her right breast. Unlike a tumor discovered when she was 17 years old, this one was cancerous. Facing her own battle with breast cancer over the next several months proved to provide the impetus for the creation of the MCHS.
In September 2000, Yoli begin helping cancer patients with guidance and visitations. No 501c3 organization was yet official, but her services had begun. The steps necessary to establish a non-profit organization would prove to be challenging and time consuming -- services were minimal but available. Initially, her search led her to the American Cancer Society (ACS), but becoming a chapter of the ACS would mean all monies raised locally would go to the national office of the ACS. This defeated one of Yoli's goals -- to provide financial assistance to cancer clients locally. There really was no "template" for developing the independent organization she envisioned for Mesquite and the surrounding communities, so she set out to create one!
There were numerous times when the task seemed unachievable, more than could be accomplished by one woman. Eventually, Yoli approached two close friends, Judy Macica and Anna Medlin, to see if they would be interested in joining forces with her. Both jumped at the opportunity to be part of such a worth- while cause. Their much-appreciated volunteerism was rewarded by making them co-founders of the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society. (Sadly, Anna Medlin passed in April, 2005, when she fought her own battle with pancreatic cancer.)
Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Nevada in April 2001, the IRS granted the MCHS 501(c)(3) non-profit status in October 2001; it was now official. MCHS was one step closer to being able to fully serve the citizens of the Virgin Valley. Others who helped during this time included; Rosemary Lindbeck, Drs. Mike and Ann Rice, Mel Drown, Carolyn Duggins, Glen Horlacher, Tom Stettler and Allen Bell.
There was one last hurdle to jump -- finding a place for MCHS to call home. At this time, one thing was certain, this fledgling service organization didn't have the money to rent office space. Thankfully, Rich Gillespie, owner of a nutrition store in the Brickyard Plaza, came to the rescue by offering the MCHS a small space in the back room of his store. To acknowledge this kind offer, Yoli offered to cover the operation of the store when Rich needed to be gone. Confined as this first office space was, and with the use of some of Rich's stock shelves for wigs and educational material, a desk and telephone, the MCHS's doors finally opened to serve the public.
Within less than two years, more generous souls in Mesquite stepped up and helped MCHS move to a larger location. Randy and Tracey Johnson (Alford, Inc.) and Chuck Bentley (Pride Contractors) purchased a mobile building and located it on the east end of Mesquite Boulevard. Charlie Goessman donated and hooked-up the air-conditioner, Mark Hanson, owner of Mesquite Furniture, donated furniture, and Kevin Parrish, owner of Mesquite Tile and Flooring, donated carpet. The generous support of these exceptional people insured the MCHS was here to stay!
Yoli is the first to admit that without the kind and selfless support of many individuals and businesses in this wonderful community, survival of the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society would be most tenuous. Simply put, the MCHS remains open because of donations from kind folks like you. Please be assured, you have our heartfelt gratitude! Without state or federal funding MCHS rings its bell of achievement.
From simply providing fuel assistance to now helping with air fare to hospitals throughout the US, providing assistance with chemo/radiation bills, paying for accommodations when receiving treatments out of town, medical bill assistance, to telemental health services (counseling) - the services provided are countless...
Today, the Mesquite Cancer HELP Society occupies office space at 150 N. Yucca, #36 (old elementary school). What was once a dream is now a reality. The tools to manage one's care during cancer, plus the spirit to fight for SURVIVORSHIP remains alive and well! TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!