Autumn Brands raised $25,000 for the Santa Barbara Breast Cancer Resource Center by selling out special jars of its product during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which was October.
For each purchased jar featuring a pink tamper seal, customers pledged 50 cents to BCRC.
The money will go toward the independent organization’s resources for cancer patients, which includes peer counseling, support groups, mammograms, community outreach, helpful hints, integrative therapy and more.
“It’s definitely an incredible feeling to be able to donate something of this magnitude and that people really wanted to be a part of this and wanted to buy our product,” Autumn Shelton, Autumn Brands’ co-owner and CFO, told the News-Press. “They saw that pink seal and wanted to give back.”
Autumn Brands is a coastal Santa Barbara County licensed cannabis cultivator. It is 50% woman-owned and operated, making it one of the first women-owned cannabis businesses in the state.
“One in eight women get breast cancer, and the degrees of separation are very small with someone you know who has it, has recovered or didn’t make it,” Ms. Shelton said. “There’s a chance for any of us one day that we will also have breast cancer.”
For this reason, the co-owner said she’d been wanting to do a fundraiser like this to raise awareness for breast cancer for a number of years.
“This is just a really, really important cause for us to be able to provide support to our local Breast Cancer Resource Center, and what they’re able to do and provide support to people who can’t afford it, especially during the time of a pandemic,” Ms. Shelton concluded. “Support is needed now more than ever.”
Silvana Kelly, the executive director of the BCRC, told the News-Press that for the last 23 years, the center has only existed because of a supportive community.
“We have not had to depend upon nor do we depend upon any state or federal funds, so it’s really surprising that we’ve been able to do this for so long just on the community support we receive,” she said. “That is the backbone of what carried us forward for the last 23 years.”
Ms. Kelly said the $25,000 will go toward the programs and services provided by the center, and will help keep its doors open by covering overhead operational costs.
The center had to dip into its endowment for the first time in 20-plus years to get through the year since it had to cancel two of its biggest fundraisers.
However, the support hasn’t stopped because of COVID-19. Staff stay connected with their clients via Zoom or by phone.
“We know that our ladies are really isolated and particularly vulnerable during this pandemic because they’re immune-suppressed during treatment, so it’s important for us to remain connected to them so they know they have us to call,” Ms. Kelly said.
Armando Martinez, the director of donor engagement, said it’s important that the center’s services remain completely free for its clients.
“Once you leave the doctor’s office, that’s where we start,” he told the News-Press. “We are there to support men and women that are on a cancer journey through the ups and downs and the stops and the starts.
“We are a non-medical organization, and we are offering peer advocacy and emotional support, which is so important even though it’s not really thought of as needed to some people,” Mr. Martinez concluded. “That is an important part of the journey to come out on the other side.”