Two years ago in September we published our premier issue and our feature story was about Greg Thorpe and his family’s nonprofit JUST-a-BREAK. With the Chalk it Up event happening this month for the 3rd time, we thought we would catch up with Greg and see what is happening with JUST-a-BREAK.
Greg lost the love of his life Jen Thorpe in December 2015 to a battle with cancer. During the trying and painful ordeal, the Thorpe family realized that so many fellow families dealing with their own cancer battles were in a sense of despair. Jen was concerned that these families, like her own, needed to have a break (it was evident that this is just how Jen was, in a battle for her own life, she was thinking of those around her and worried about their well being, instead of her own). These families spent most of their time waiting for treatments or traveling to treatments or waiting for results of treatments. They often lacked a sense of hope and they needed a break. Unfortunately, they never took breaks. They often don’t have the money to do so and or the will to make plans and go out for a night. Starting with just a few anonymous give away packages for simple things like dinner and a movie for families in treatment the idea behind JUST-a-BREAK was formed. Jen wanted to keep things anonymous and so they quietly served. When Jen was nearing the end of her life, the Thorpes started to put a little more effort into giving families a break durning their trial. By keeping the gift giving anonymous but by being open about what they were doing and gathering donations, they were able to help more families, especially those struggling the most financially and emotionally with a much needed break.
Today, Greg and his children have continued the legacy of giving in Jen’s honor. As a labor of love, there are no donated funds that are used for administrative purposes. 100% of all donations are used to purchase the gift cards that are the source of the “break” given to the families of cancer patients. By focusing on creating more contacts in the business community JUST-a-BREAK has been able to nearly double the value of all donations. Each dollar that is donated is nearly always doubled by the retailers from whom the gifts are purchased. Just recently, Greg was able to purchase, at cost, 8 three-day, two-night dinner, spa, food and entertainment packages from West Gate Resort, Canyons – Park City. West Gate Resort matched that purchase by donating 8 additional packages in return. In all JUST-a-BREAK has raised and donated over $70,000 to cancer patients and their families.
Interest in the foundation is also growing, and paperwork is soon to be completed for opening an additional nonprofit in the state of Georgia. Soon we may see JUST-a-BREAK branches in Massachusetts, Illinois, Nevada, Idaho and other communities. Although JUST-a-BREAK is expanding, donations stay local and serve the communities they come from.
I asked Greg about his plans and how he can continue to grow the organization when he and a fellow cancer widower are paying for all of the administrative, legal and accounting expenses out of their own pockets? He said he hopes to find someone or an organization who will catch the vision of what they are doing and set up an endowment or make donations to help offset administrative expenses so that they can continue to utilize 100% of the donations received to bless cancer families. With Gregs vision, he hopes to create a nationwide program that can grow into a charity that serves thousands of families.