Saturday August 3, 2013

HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- A non-profit organization that has been helping cancer survivors for seven years has had to close its doors due to a failure to raise enough money to fund its programs.

Forest Moon was started in 2006 by Cindy and Phil Blood, two cancer survivors who recognized the value and importance in artistic, spiritual and emotional support for people who are going through cancer treatment.

They started Forest Moon to create more of those services and make them available for free to people in Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts.

Former board president Anne Wibiralske said the group has been as busy as ever, but a steep drop in local individual donations forced the board of directors to vote to cease operations.

"After much deliberation and deep sorrow the board of directors has decided to close Forest Moon. Our fundraising efforts have not met our funding needs," Wibiralske said. "While Forest Moon has continued to compete very successfully, and gratefully, for grant support, these grants typically cover direct program costs but not the operational support necessary to maintain our organizational infrastructure. And the current economic climate has resulted in a significant reduction in philanthropic giving."

Cindy Blood started offering programs out of her own home in Guilford in 2004 and two years later she started Forest Moon to expand those offerings.

The group expanded every year, eventually working with hospitals and other nonprofits in the region. Blood stepped down from her position in 2012 and a new executive director was hired.

In 2012 Forest Moon and its partners conducted 23 individual programs over 94 program days, working with more than 200 individuals and their families.

Former Program Director Pam Roberts said some of the group’s partners will continue the programs that were developed with Forest Moon.

In the fall Circus for Survivors will be held at New England Center for Circus Arts, and the Oncology Department at Baystate Franklin Medical Center will continue to hold Gentle Yoga for Women with Breast Cancer as well as Spirit of the Written Word, which were both supported through the work at Forest Moon.

"We tried maintaining the programs for as long as we could but we ran out of money," Roberts said. "It was a very tough decision. It has been heartbreaking to have to close our doors but we had no other choice."