The Samfund is dedicated to helping young adults recover from the financial impact of cancer. Their financial assistance program has distributed more than $3 million to survivors nationwide since 2005. Grants are awarded to help young adults regain their financial health so that they can live independently and stay healthy after cancer treatment that is often not only physically draining but financially devastating. From their own research, which was published in Cancer Medicine in 2016, the average net worth of grant recipients is -$35,000. Samfund merged with Expect Miracles Foundation in 2019.
Samfund programs fill such a vital role because young adults are an overlooked and underserved population that face a unique set of challenges as a result of their stage in life, with few other resources available to them. Samfund grants support young adult cancer survivors in getting their lives and finances back on track.
GFF has been partnering with the Samford since 2014. With two major initiatives, a total of 105 GFF grants to young cancer survivors have been awarded through mid-2021.
The first initiative has been to increase support for survivors of Hodgkins Lymphoma, a blood cancer that is most often diagnosed in the early 20’s. With GFF targeted funds, Samfund was able to encourage applicants with Hodgkins Lymphoma to apply and expanded awards to them each year. Awards have covered diverse needs including car payments, car repairs, student loan payments, mortgage or rent payments, medical debt and untreated dental work. Whatever the specifics, recipients share a sense of burdens lifted from their shoulders and a great sense of relief.
Then with the onset of the COVID pandemic, GFF approached Samfund with the idea to launch a new Emergency Fund to help young survivors of all cancers remain in their homes. GFF provided the lead gift and continued support for a rapid response fund to help survivors with the additional financial burdens caused by the pandemic. Helping to keep a roof over the heads of young cancer survivors and their families has been some of our most important work during COVID.
We are incredibly grateful for the Graham Family Foundation's partnership and support over the past seven years. In that time, Dorothy and Rich have transcended the typical role of a funder and become active partners, not only helping to support our young adult cancer survivor community but also helping us make our grants program more efficient.
They are unique in their ability to create meaningful dialogue and make strategic recommendations while recognizing the bandwidth of a small organization and providing the resources necessary to accomplish our goals. They are thoroughly committed to reducing disparities in healthcare and removing barriers to access, and have helped us address both of these issues more effectively.
Both Dorothy and Rich have made a tremendous and meaningful difference in our organization as well as the lives of the people we've been able to help because of them.
- Samantha Watson, Founder and Managing Director of Stewardship
In direct grants to young adult cancer survivors to date.
Grants for Hodgkins Lymphoma survivors from 2014-2019.
Emergency COVID grants in 2020-21 for survivors of all cancers.
This year, thanks to a generous donation by The Graham Family Foundation, we are proud to honor these three amazing young adults survivors of Hodgkin’s lymphoma with the first ever Graham Family Foundation Grants: Read more...
The Samfund is the only non-profit in the United States designed to help young adults recover from the devastating financial impact of cancer treatment. We offer direct financial assistance and free online support and education through our Webinar series “Moving Forward with Your Financial Health.” It’s our goal and our privilege to help young adult survivors move forward toward their personal, professional and educational goals.
“Thank you to the Graham Family Foundation for their leadership gift of $25,000! As Dorothy Graham and Richard Straesser of the Graham Family Foundation recall, “As soon as the scope of the COVID pandemic began to emerge, we called Sam and asked if she had thought about emergency grants to keep young adults in their homes. We knew that Samfund grant recipients were especially vulnerable to the double health and economic risks of the pandemic.”
Hodgkins Lymphoma Grant Testimonials
“I cried tears of joy when I got the call saying that my student loans were being paid off. It was the best news I’ve heard since being told I was in remission 4 years ago. My monthly student loan payment was always a reminder that I had to withdraw from my second year in school after my diagnosis with Hodgkins Lymphoma. The Samfund played a major part in helping me get back on my feet again and I aspire to help ‘pay it forward’ in the future.”
– Michelle, 2015 grant recipient, OR
"I needed to be able to pay my bills until June, when I would have my 4-year degree and be able to start looking for a career, not just a job to get me through. My fiancé really wanted to buy a house and that made money really tight. With the help from The Samfund, we were able to pull together enough for a down payment for our new town-home. Moving in to the new house has really helped my psychological health because it is hard to feel successful when cramped up in a friend's basement. I never realized how trapped that situation made me feel until we moved out."
– Dana, 2015 grant recipient, MD
“I want to thank everyone at the Graham Foundation that made this grant possible for me. I wholeheartedly appreciate your generosity for giving me this grant and the opportunity to catch up on my car payments. I was once told that it takes a village to raise a child. I add that, it also takes a village to help to repair a problem that may have raised in adulthood that was out of their control. Graham family, I would like for you to know that you repaired my problem, and again, I thank you.”
– Gerri, 2015 grant recipient WI
"The grant enabled me to fix mechanical issues with my car so I could get to work. I am very thankful for the support of the Samfund and the Graham Family Foundation! It is wonderful that there are people and organizations in the world with a mission to help others progress after going through a rough part of their lives."
– Earl, 2015 grant recipient, PA
“The Samfund grant that I received was one of the greatest blessings I have ever had. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but the grant was put towards my car payment, which in turn, gave me the opportunity to help support my family more since my father lost his job. It's an incredible, empowering feeling to be able to support the people that loved and cared for me throughout my diagnosis and treatment. I am forever grateful to the Graham Family Foundation and Samfund for helping me to move forward!”
– Christina, 2015 grant recipient, NC
“We just wanted to say THANK YOU in the biggest way. The money we received (for mortgage payment) helped us in our time of need. Our lives have been turned upside down, but we are getting back on track and looking forward to the future. The Lord has really blessed us. Thank you for having such a wonderful program. May God bless the Graham Family Foundation, the Samfund and all the people who support it.“
– Raul, 2016 Grant recipient, TX
“I just wanted to start out with a hearty and honest 'thank you' for your assistance…I know everyone whose lives you've touched are likely as appreciative and grateful as I am. When I received the grant money, I put it to good use right away in my life. It was put toward my car repair bills. I had a lot of repairs and inspection to cover, plus regular upkeep. The constant travel due to my medical situation has required my car to be in near constant use in all kinds of weather and traffic. This has helped not only with the bills themselves, but with my overall health. I was having increased muscle soreness, lots of trouble sleeping, and worsened nausea and headaches, exacerbated by stress. I think in the face of disability and illness, many people forget that stress exacerbates almost anything, as much as it slows recuperation. Plus of course, I need my vehicle to get to and from my treatments and appointments. In lowering my stress, you've helped ease my journey through this chapter of my life. Thank you very much, on behalf of myself and everyone you've helped, or will help.”
– Julie, 2016 Grant Recipient, PA
“Thank you so much for my Graham Family Foundation grant to cover student loan payments for three months. I am three years past recurrence and haven’t been able to return to full time work because I am still plagued with fatigue. At this point it seems entirely uncertain if I’ll ever be able to return to “normal”. My experience with a recent part time, temporary position really makes me fear what the rest of my future work prospects will be based on my physical abilities. Thinking about that and the tens of thousands of dollars left on my student loans and the two decades of payments remaining can really bring me down to a dark place or make me panic. This three months of support has lifted such a burden. I’ve been able to stop worrying about how I will cover all of my bills with my disability insurance and whatever fluctuating part-time income I might be able to bring in. I have been able to focus on doing what I can in the present and remaining hopeful for what the future might bring. It’s so wonderful to be able to move into a better frame of mind because I’m not constantly thinking about bills. Thank you again for the support you’ve given me and all the other young adult cancer survivors who’ve received respite as the result of your generosity.”
– Jacqueline, 2017 grant recipient, NY
"We are doing GREAT since the Samfund and the Graham Family Foundation took an elephant off our shoulders. The grant I received prevented our car from repossession. We were 3 months behind and had no one to turn to. It was locked behind a chained gate from Oct 20th until they received your check. We originally had over a $1300 balance on our electric bill, and after visiting every church here locally, along with your help, brought it down to a $0 balance. That is the first time we have seen that in over a year. If it would not have been for this grant, the car would have been gone and the electricity may have been shut off. We cannot thank you enough for that grant. Aside from being "cancer free" this was another miraculous event that my wife and I are extremely grateful for."
– Henry, 2017 grant recipient, NM
"Thank you so much to the Samfund and Graham Family Foundation. I greatly appreciate it. I really needed that (four months’ car payment). Helps so much. Now the kids will have a Christmas."
– Rusty, 2017 grant recipient, VA
“The Samfund and Graham Family Foundation Grant helped me with my rent payments for two months allowing me to catch up on my credit cards and pay off some medical bills. I am forever grateful to everyone involved for making this possible.”
- Nicole, 2017 grant recipient, FL
“I want to start by saying how honored and grateful I am with the Samfund and Graham Family Foundation for granting me the help. I was so happy and in shock to receive the news from Michelle that I would be granted help for my car repairs and a computer. I was so honored and grateful for this opportunity that will help me worry less about the cost of repairs. I unfortunately haven't had the funds to do maintenance on my car since I received my transplant June 2016. From the constant doctor appointments to the hospital my vehicle took a toll from all the commuting. I depend on my car for my traveling to visits, going to school, and daily getting around for my daughters needs or mine. I barely have enough funds to get me through the month for daily living expenses and haven't had the sufficient funds for car repairs."
- Jazmin, 2017 grant recipient, CA
"Thank you all very much for everything you have done for me. This grant means more to me than any words can express. The last few years have been very difficult on myself and my family. This grant has allowed me to better provide for my children and take care of my monthly bills without being as stressed as I previously had been. Anyone that has been touched by cancer knows how much stress it can place on our day to day lives, thank you for being there for us during these difficult times and shedding some light on times that grew to be very dark."
- Jessica, 2017 grant recipient, FL
“Thank you for your generous donation to the Samfund, which funded a grant I won for acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture, effective as it is, is expensive, not covered by insurance, and with my existing healthcare expenses, was financially out of reach. Pain medications stopped helping my intractable cancer-related neuropathy, and the side effects became unbearable. Desperate for relief, I applied for, and received, a Samfund grant that made it possible for me to try this alternative therapy. It has made all the difference in improving my pain, and quality of life. I’ve been off pain medication completely for a year, and am now enrolled in nursing school. Your grant has enabled me to maintain my drug-free pain management and overall recovery from recurrent Hodgkin’s disease. That is a gift worth more to me than any dollar amount. Many thanks, again, Graham Family Foundation, for your generous donation.”
- Lauren, 2017 grant recipient, TX
First off, I would like to greatly thank the Samfund and the Graham Family Foundation for all their gracious donations to not only myself but other families. My family was greatly appreciative of all contributions made to us... With me not working the money came in handy for bills and mortgage, allowing us to keep our newly purchased house for at least a few more months. Once again on behalf of the family, we thank you all.
- Karl, 2017 grant recipient, PA
"With my financial constraints, for years, I have gone without a permanent crown over where a root canal was performed. Left lingering, unaddressed, it's one that only gets worse over time. Being a recipient of a Samfund grant made possible by the Graham Family Foundation, I am now finally able to get this dental situation resolved. Additionally, the payments to student loan debt have freed me to focus on resolving my other debts and expenses. My health was into a nosedive when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and since then it has been at times a very rough, stressful journey. But as I go forward, I have met so many caring people connected through these experiences in treatment, recovery, and survivorship. Thank you so much for the relief Graham Family Foundation!"
- Jason, 2017 grant recipient, PA
“With a three year battle of cancer, my medical debts continued to accrue over time. I was trying to stay on top of the current years out of pocket expenses, but was also behind in years 2014, 2015, and 2016. This grant has allowed me to eliminate the debt from the past years which was a huge goal and burden lifted off.“
- Sarah, 2017 grant recipient, TN
“This grant came to me at a time in my life when I needed support the most. With this grant, I was able to meet one month of rent just when I was laid off at work and really needed those funds. The other portion of the grant allowed me to go to therapy which is helping me greatly with my concentration and guidance in this time in my life that I feel I am at a crossroads. I am very thankful to the Graham Family Foundation for this grant that provides assistance to young cancer survivors like me. I am really thankful for their generosity and I hope the Graham family continues to be blessed to be able to help others in the future.”
- Paola, 2017 grant recipient, FL
2020 COVID Emergency Housing Grant Testimonials
“Hello Graham Foundation, I was awarded aid through the Samfund COVID emergency grants, and I cannot thank you enough for your donation to the Samfund and therefore to me. The COVID pandemic has been so incredibly scary, especially for those of us who are high risk due to cancer treatments or other health issues. It was such a very welcome relief to not have to stress about rent at a time that is already so stressful. Please know that it helped me make it through these unprecedented times and that I am sincerely grateful.”
- Sunny, OR, diagnosed with Leukemia
“I was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of breast cancer- triple negative, when I was 38, halfway through 2018. Treatment was a year-long process that left me physically and financially drained. I was just getting back on my feet when COVID-19 hit and I lost my job of 14 years. The emergency grant from the Samfund and Graham Family Foundation helped to ease the stress and financial burden during this scary time. Currently, there is little information on how coronavirus affects cancer survivors who underwent strong chemotherapy protocols and if they are more vulnerable to the disease. Having an extra month where I did not need to worry about my mortgage payment and just focus on staying home and being healthy, was such a great gift in this incredibly stressful time. Thank you for supporting survivors as they work to rebuild their lives after cancer.”
- Jessica, CA, diagnosed with breast cancer
“I wasn’t sure how I would pay my rent for the month I wasn’t employed and finishing my MBA, but when I received the email about this grant, I knew that I would be ok. Thank you so much for your support and financial assistance during these unprecedented times.”
- DaJuan, CA, diagnosed with brain cancer
“Thank you so much for providing the emergency assistance to my son and myself during this crisis. The funds were able to help us with one month's worth of rent and keep a shelter over our heads. It alleviated the stress and worry of how to pay such a big factor in life. Without this assistance we may have lost our apartment. You were really an answered prayer. We appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts.”
- Elizabet, CO, diagnosed with breast cancer and leukemia
“Thank you so much for your generous donation and for choosing me as a grant recipient. The grant that you’ve given me allowed me to get caught up on my rent and I was able to pay my utility bills. During this pandemic it has been very challenging, I don’t know what I would have done without your help! I pray that you continue to help cancer survivors like myself in need."
- Carolyn, CA, diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma
“This grant came to us at the best time ever. We were really worried about how we were going to pay our mortgage and thanks to Samfund and the Graham Family Foundation we got it paid just in time! Thank goodness and thank you!”
- Sonja, CA, diagnosed with brain cancer
"Thank you so much! I appreciate this help tremendously. I'll be able to sleep for the remaining of this month and May. Thank you again and God Bless."
- Claudia, CA, diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma
“I am 35 years old and currently 4 years post bone marrow transplant. I am very thankful for the grant we received and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. My wife was at the time temporarily unemployed and I was disabled from a shoulder injury. The bills were beginning to pile up and thanks to you a great burden was lifted off our shoulders. We just want to reach out and say thank you. Thanks to the good deeds and work your foundation provides we were able to get back in track.”
- Daniel, CA, diagnosed with leukemia
“The years since my diagnosis have went from tense and fearful to survival mode and acceptance. I truly thought that I had less than a year to live with two very young children. With both of my parents being deceased and very poor siblings in other states, my support system was not there. As I balanced budgets and made payment arrangements with doctors/hospitals, eventually I came to a place six years later that I could breathe a little. Even through cancer treatment, Covid made sure to turn my world upside down for a small time again. That is until the SamFund reached out to help again. Please pass along a special thank you to the Graham Family Foundation. It is so refreshing and hopeful that there are people and family out there who make it their purpose to help others. I hope they continue their work as I don’t know where I would be without their grant. Once again I weathered this storm and feel hopeful about beating this disease without having to worry about keeping a roof over me and my children. Thank you again and all the best!”
- Neolla, MI, diagnosed with breast cancer
“Thank you so much for making this grant possible. My husband and I are so thrilled to hear this wonderful news because we have been so stressed out and worried about our finances and being unable to pay our bills the last few months because of COVID-19. I will let my landlord know that a check has been sent by you guys to her to cover March and April's rent. This takes a huge burden off our shoulders & now my husband and I don't have to worry about our kids losing the roof over our head or worrying about having to move. Thank you again so much. I literally screamed & started jumping out of joy & excitement as I read your email & my husband was startled asking what was wrong. You guys stay safe & healthy & keep doing the wonderful work you are doing helping cancer survivors like me.”
- Danielle, WA, diagnosed with breast cancer
“How generous of you to help folks like me. The last few years of cancer treatments have been emotionally challenging, and economically stressful. Last year, Expect Miracles/Samfund helped me with medical bills. This year, the COVID pandemic left me wondering how I would pay rent. But Samfund was there for me, helping me pay a month of living expenses. And know that I know your donation made that help possible, I wanted to share my gratitude.”
- Ava, NY, diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
“This is SUCH AMAZING NEWS, you seriously have me in tears. You guys are LIFESAVERS. I so appreciate this and it's the best news I've had in a long time. I have been SO stressed about finances and this is going to be incredibly helpful. I cannot thank you enough for thinking of us during this difficult time. What a special organization you are and thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
- Jennifer, FL, diagnosed with breast cancer
“I am so thankful for the Graham Family Foundation for assisting us in October 2020. The assistance we received allowed my family to have a roof over our head during the holidays. With the uncertainty that our family experienced with Covid-19 and loss of jobs, the funding that was granted to us was more than a blessing that will never be forgotten. Thank you for making it possible for us to have holidays filled with peace of mind. Our children didn’t have to go without a Christmas this past year and did not have to go through severe hardship this past year thanks to your grant. We will be forever thankful!”