Charessa is an advocate for cancer survivors and their caregivers and has travelled to various states providing Day of Celebration makeovers with The Charge Up Campaign. She founded the organization after her own experience of being a caregiver for her mother who is a breast cancer survivor. Through the Charge Up Campaign, Charessa and her team are committed to creating a sorority of survivors – providing tools, resources and celebrations for life after cancer. The organization hosts the Pink Champagne Gala which serves as an annual fundraiser and provides recognition for survivors, caregivers and oncology medical professionals. In June 2018, the organization introduced its inaugural SurvivorsCon, a day of panel discussions speaking to topics, such as: financial planning, insurance and estate planning, mental health and nutrition; followed by the signature Pink Pajama Party which provided various spa and beauty treatments for cancer survivors.
Patrice: For those who aren’t familiar with Charge up Campaign, what is this campaign and what is the sole mission and purpose?
Charessa: Charge Up Campaign, Inc is a nonprofit geared to uplifting Cancer warriors, survivors and caregivers through programs that support their mental health.
Patrice: In what year did you start the campaign?
Charessa: The organization was founded in 2013.
Patrice: What was your inspiration behind it?
Charessa: My mother is a cancer survivor and she was unhappy during the journey. She was in a lot of pain and it began to impact what she thought about life. This was the first time I heard my mom cry. It was the first time I watched her in pain and I could not control it. I found myself trying to figure out how to support her and to put a smile on her face. Essentially, I was seeking ways to Charge her up. We sent her to Florida after she completed treatments and that’s what she needed. She needed time off – time away and time to recharge.
My mom came back charged up in yellow, no scarf and beaming. She was smiling. I knew at that time that I wanted others to be charged up too. So I started the organization a few years later and we also now recognize the need to include support for caregivers as well. Breast Cancer Awareness is very important to educate yourself on.
Patrice: What type of information should women young and old know as far as their health is concerned?
Charessa: We encourage monthly breast exams to help with early detection and long with proper diet and exercise. Through our Charge Up health initiative we assist with creating clean eating grocery lists and exercise regimens. Additionally, because we focus on mental health we also speak to the importance of having a strong support system, no matter what.
Patrice: Tell us more about the signature events the campaign hosts.
Charessa: Our Signature events include our Annual Pink Champagne Gala, Bi Annual Survivors Conference and Day of Celebrations. All of the events allow us to build with the community and bring smiles to the face of those we serve. Charge Up is here to inspire, empower and educate and our signature events do just that. We will be hosting a virtual edition of our Survivors Conference on October 31.
Patrice: The pandemic affected a lot of businesses this year. Was the campaign affected at all with everything being shut down and cancelled? If so, how did you manage to continue with it?
Charessa: Yes, we were affected both positively and negatively. Because of the pandemic we have not been able to host our signature events or network as much. We have not been able to visit warriors and our fundraising campaigns were halted for a period of time. But, in the time we have spent home, we have had the chance to redevelop programs, improve our database of supporters and learn more about what is needed in the community. We continue to do what we encourage others to do, We Charge Up.
Patrice: What message do you want the community to take away with Charge Up Campaign?
Charessa: We are an organization that prides ourselves on making warriors and caregivers feel good. We take on the mental health aspect of the horrible disease. We give men and women hope by working to charge them up. We support all cancer warriors, fighters, survivors and thrivers; not just breast cancer. In addition, what makes us unique is that we have a specific focus on our silent warriors, also known as Caregivers.
Patrice: What is Day of Celebration and why is it important?
Charessa: Day of Celebration is a day that we spend personal time with warriors. We get to know them and pamper them. The Day of Celebrations provides basic hair, makeup and nails services. The day concludes with a photoshoot and Table Talk brunch. It is important because it creates community and allows us to learn how we may better support them.
Patrice: Are there any new projects you are currently working on?
Charessa: We are working on developing our new CUC Transportation program and Virtual Caregiver’s program. Both will support our warriors and caregivers with reducing stress and obtaining much needed resources.
Patrice: How can readers connect with you and the Charge Up Campaign?
Charessa: To learn more about Charge Up Campaign or make a donation visit. Chargeupcampaign.org. You can also email me directly at email@example.com
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