When pediatric cancer patient Lucy Grogan found out health insurance didn’t always cover the integrative therapies that made her feel better, she “got angry.” Grogan, age 11, told her mother, Beecher, that she wanted to help other families afford treatments like acupuncture and massage therapy for kids with cancer.
Lucy died in 2006, but the resulting non-profit that bears her name, Lucy’s Love Bus, lives on today thanks, in large part, to the tireless efforts of Beecher Grogan, the organization’s director and co-founder, who says she is still guided by Lucy’s spirit.
Since its founding, the charity has provided 100s of families with grants for integrative therapies, but the non-profit started slowly, giving Grogan time to grieve for Lucy. “I knew this was going to be very big, and I knew that as a bereaved parent I could not pull this off… so I waited, said Grogan.
“I waited a full three years. And then on the third anniversary of Lucy’s death in 2009, I literally felt her kick me in the butt and say ‘Ok, woman, it’s time to get off the couch. It’s time to go help my friends because they are dying and they need your support’.”
The charity operates from Grogan’s home base in Amesbury, Mass. Its funky logo features a VW bus with Monarch butterfly wings. The butterfly was an important metaphorical symbol for Beecher and Lucy. The ‘love bus’ was added to the charity’s name and logo, says Grogan, because it invoked the idealism of the Sixties.
Her advice for others who want to start their own charity is practical and frank: don’t do it, she says, if your mission and services are redundant of other non-profits. There are over a million charities in the US, she cautions, and they compete for limited resources.
But “if someone has an idea for something that isn’t being done, then by all means go start a non-profit,” says Grogan.
“The only reason I started Love Bus is because no one else was doing this—no one else was providing free integrative treatments to children with cancer. So that was when I thought ‘I have to do it myself.’”