The abrupt closure of national breast cancer support group Y-Me left hundreds of breast cancer survivors and volunteer counselors from the D.C. area in the lurch, and a group of local golfers who recently raised thousands of dollars for Y-Me is asking where that money went.
Y-Me was unique among breast cancer organizations because it provided a round-the-clock hotline of specially trained breast cancer survivors to answer women's questions about diagnosis and treatment, taking about 40,000 calls per year.
For the past four years, Kathy Rath and fellow golfers with the Pinecrest Women’s Golf Association spent months organizing and staging a charity tournament benefitting Y-Me. This year’s event on June 2 featured dozens of sponsors and contributors and raised more than $16,000.
An email from a Chicago-based Y-Me director shows they received the check June 25, but Rath recently learned that fewer than three weeks later, Y-Me suddenly closed its doors, turned off the hotline and took down its web page. She wants to know if that $16,000 went to help breast cancer patients.
“It was like I was kicked in the teeth,” Rath said. “My stomach sank thinking all the effort, all the time -- all of the effort from my committee members, from our league, from the community, from so many of our friends that donated to help Y-Me.”
Breast cancer survivor Debbie Hayes, who served as Y-Me’s volunteer coordinator for the Washington metro area affiliate, is reeling from the abrupt shutdown. On June 27, just days after she sent in the check from Rath, she learned her job was being eliminated in a cost-cutting move.
“My greatest concern has been the callers and constituents who reach out to try to receive our services,” she said. “And I think since the moment I was removed from my position and later on went on to find out Y-Me’s closed its doors, my concern has been, Who is providing services?”
Rath wants an explanation from Y-Me about her group’s contribution.
“We want to know what’s happened to this money and how can it help, did it help others? Who is it helping?” she said. “We want accountability for that.”
Y-Me has not provided specifics about the closure, saying only it was due to a "cash-flow crisis."
Rath said she's calling an emergency meeting of her women's golf group this week to decide how to inform the golf tournament donors about Y-Me's closure.