Okizu Foundation

Supporting Families with Childhood Cancer

aka Okizu   |   Novato, CA   |  http://www.okizu.org

Mission

Okizu (oak-eye-zoo) comes from the Sioux language and means unity, to come together, to heal from a hurt, to make whole. The mission of Okizu is to help all members of families affected by childhood cancer to heal through peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs.

Ruling year info

1993

Executive Director Operations

Mrs. Suzanne Randall

Main address

83 Hamilton Drive, Suite 200

Novato, CA 94949 USA

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EIN

68-0291178

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Cancer (G30)

Counseling Support Groups (F60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children who are diagnosed with cancer miss a normal childhood. Their illness, treatment, and complications can keep them from enjoying activities that often are taken for granted. And yet these children, like all children, need the opportunity to grow, experiment, and discover independence. Okizu began with the belief that a residential camp can be an ideal setting for children struggling with cancer to explore and enjoy a normal life experience, while interacting with others who truly understand their illness.
We quickly learned that all family members, including the ill child, parents, and siblings, are impacted in powerful and unique ways by childhood cancer. The opportunity for interactions with true peers and the strong sense of community fostered by a residential camp environment provide valuable emotional and practical support for continuing the cancer journey, while also allowing everyone to take a break from their routine and have a great time.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Camp Okizu

Okizu provides free camp programs for any child or family in Northern California and Nevada that is affected by pediatric cancer. Recognizing that childhood cancer affects the entire family, we provide programs for siblings, young adults, parents and families as a whole. Our camp programs include:

Oncology Camp: A one-week camp for 6-17-year-olds who have or have had cancer. Offered three times each summer, Oncology Camp provides children with cancer a chance to be a part of a close-knit group of friends and enjoy the challenges and excitement of outdoor activities, which are not normally a part of a sick child's daily life. Seeing other children who are bald or missing a limb and yet are still able to run, laugh and play can make a real difference in a child's ability to cope with cancer. This support is invaluable to a child's overall recovery from cancer and the often-rigorous treatments that must be endured.

SIBS (Special and Important Brothers and Sisters) Camp: Also a one-week summer camp for children 6-17 years old, SIBS Camp is one of the few places in the country where siblings receive emotional and psychological support to deal with their own unique set of challenges, including feelings of guilt, resentment, fear, confusion, and anger, which can be exacerbated by additional responsibilities placed on them and by the lack of time and support parents are able to provide.

Family Camp Weekends: Provided eight times a year, Family Camp is an experience designed to give families a few days of fun, play and relaxation, and to gain strength and support through discussions with other families who also struggle with the affects of pediatric cancer.
Bereavement Camp Weekends: Provided twice a year, Bereavement Camp began when a group of families suggested we hold a camp especially for those suffering from the loss of a child due to cancer. The Bereaved Family Camp Weekends give families the opportunity to speak more freely about their experiences and bond with others who are also coping with the death of a child. In addition, we offer two Bereaved Teen weekends for teenagers who have lost a sibling.

Teens-N-Twenties (TNT) Program: Provided four weekends a year for young adults 18-25 years of age, TNT serves many of our prior campers, who had literally outgrown our camp programs but still felt a strong need to come together. These weekends provide the teenagers and young adults with an ongoing opportunity to strengthen their friendships and give and receive support from their peers.

Each year, Camp Okizu serves more than 2,500 children and their family members from 47 California counties and Nevada. Due to the enormous financial burden of cancer treatment, Okizu does not charge families a fee to attend or send their children to camp and that we are able to maintain a maximum 3 to 1 camper to staff ratio at all times.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Though most California children diagnosed with pediatric cancer receive adequate medical treatment, the therapeutic focus is rarely on helping these children to find respite from the rigors of cancer treatment. Okizu works closely with medical treatment centers to complement their services in order to fill this need for respite. Okizu offers these children a kindred community through which they can feel accepted, experiment with new activities without fear, and relax and have fun in a supportive environment.

It is not uncommon for siblings of cancer patients to feel a sense of vulnerability and isolation as their normal routines are disrupted and relationships are altered. Their sense of security and safety may be threatened by exposure to issues of mortality, and by witnessing their parents' sense of fear and helplessness. Siblings often experience feelings of guilt, resentment, fear, confusion, and anger. The goal of Camp Okizu's SIBS Camps is to instill campers with a sense of self-confidence that will translate to all aspects of their lives, including school and family relationships.

A family's normal emotional and social environment, as well as day-to-day life, can be greatly disrupted and their ability to cope seriously hindered by a diagnosis of pediatric cancer. The daily struggle of coping with pediatric cancer—both during treatment phase and after—can take an enormous toll on every member of the family. Marriages, sibling relationships, and the bonds between children and parents often suffer under stress, sometimes leading to separations and problematic behavior.

Our goals for all campers include relaxation from the rigors of cancer treatment; increased self-esteem; increased sense of hope for the future; development of coping skills and strategies; development of social skills; physical confidence and sense of well-being; increased feeling of independence; and improved ability to interact in group settings.

Okizu's Oncology Camp Program is available to children ages 6-17 who have or have had pediatric cancer. We welcome children in any phase of their cancer journey - treatment, maintenance, remission, etc. - as long as they are approved by their physician. A week at Oncology Camp gives children with cancer the opportunity to make friends, play games, learn new activities, and simply have fun. It is a week away from televisions and computers, where they can enjoy fresh air and sunshine. Camp Okizu enables them to feel a sense of belonging that is often missing from their daily lives.

Our SIBS Camp is available to children ages 6-17 who have a sibling who has or has had pediatric cancer. Camp Okizu is one of the few summer camps in the country where siblings of children diagnosed with cancer receive emotional and psychological support to deal with their own unique set of challenges. Through peer interaction, facilitated discussions, and confidence-building activities, campers develop the skills necessary to succeed. By helping to put focus back on these siblings, Camp Okizu reminds them of their worth and encourages them to achieve their goals.

Camp Okizu's Family Camp weekends provide families with much-needed respite from their daily struggle while improving their coping and communication skills, renewing family bonds, and improving families' strategies for dealing with ongoing medical and psychological/emotional issues. One of the most important aspects of Family Camp is the support and camaraderie experienced by each parent.

Camp Okizu's Bereaved Family Camp Weekends give families the opportunity to speak more freely about their experiences and bond with those who are coping with the death of a child. The Bereaved Teen weekends enable kids to remember the siblings they lost, share feelings, and discuss practical ideas about how to cope with their loss. The programs help them develop a network of people who understand what they have experienced, and the challenges they continue to face.

Because Oncology Camp and SIBS Camp are designed specifically for children aged 6-17 years old, many campers outgrow our programs but still feel a strong need to come together. Our Teens-N-Twenties (TNT) Weekends provide teenagers and young adults with an ongoing opportunity to strengthen their friendships and exchange support with their peers. These retreats are designed to provide opportunities for peer interaction and fun, increased sense of well-being and confidence, and respite from the challenges of coping with the ongoing effects of childhood cancer.

Unfortunately, approximately 20% of the campers who attend our SIBS Camp program are bereaved. We created the Bereaved Teen program to provide a venue for these kids to bond with each other and address the challenges and emotions specific to their situation. The Bereaved Teen Weekends enable kids to remember the siblings they lost, share feelings, and discuss practical ideas about how to cope with their l

Okizu has been providing our medically assisted Oncology Camp for 36 years, and we are now considered the premium pediatric oncology camp in the country.

Okizu collaborates with the following treatment centers: California Pacific Medical Center; John Muir Medical Center; Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in Oakland, Roseville and Santa Clara; Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford; Sutter Medical Center; UC Davis Medical Center; and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco. We collaborate closely with these facilities to ensure timely referrals for families coping with their children's cancer, and to allow medical professionals the opportunity to interact with patients as volunteers in a non-clinical setting.

The Okizu Family community of support has grown immensely over our years of service. Over 50% of our campers return to Camp Okizu year after year. In addition, about 25% of our volunteer camp counselors were once campers themselves; it is their way of giving back to a place that has given so much to them. Our volunteer Medical Staff includes doctors in-residence, on-call doctors, registered nurses, social workers and recreational therapists who enjoy the opportunity to work with the children outside of the hospital setting. This makes it possible for children who are currently receiving cancer treatments to attend Camp Okizu under the supervision of medical professionals.

Camp Okizu is offered free-of-charge, and we are dedicated to serving every child and family in northern California affected by childhood cancer who wishes to attend, regardless of physical condition, geographic location, ethnicity or economic background. We make every effort to keep operational costs low by utilizing the services of more than 670 volunteers each year, negotiating in-kind services and aggressively pursuing funding from a variety of sources. Our annual black-tie fundraising gala, Art Inspiring Hope, takes place every March, and we host a number of smaller fundraising events throughout the year.

Each year, Okizu serves over 3,000 individuals through our variety of programs. As the need for our programs increases, we are constantly working to secure the funding, staff, and resources needed to meet the demand.

Psychological measures of our programs' impact show that Okizu campers:
• Have better family relationships;
• Have better friendship skills;
• Work better with peers;
• Feel more independent;
• Have fewer PTSD symptoms;
• Are less anxious; and
• Report a better health-related quality of life.

Okizu benefits the community at large by helping families develop coping strategies, self-confidence and practical solutions. This translates to more families remaining intact, better school performance, and improved ability to interact with peers. At Okizu, campers learn empathy, teamwork, cooperation and the value of helping others. Many are inspired by their experiences at Camp Okizu to contribute to their community by becoming teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and volunteer camp counselors.

Okizu has been providing our medically assisted Oncology Camp for 36 years, and we are now considered the premium pediatric oncology camp in the country. Due to our success, we are currently in the beginning phases of becoming the national training center for oncology camps. Our programs focus heavily on youth development, strengthening families, and providing respite during times of hardship. We can think of no greater measure of success than to assist other programs to become more successful. We are very proud of the work we do, and the lives that we are able to touch.

Financials

Okizu Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Okizu Foundation

Board of directors
as of 8/23/2018
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Timothy Crudo

Partner, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP

Term: 2017 -

Timothy Crudo

Partner, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP

Hanna Malak

Board Secretary, Senior Corporate Partnership Officer, America Red Cross

Michael Amylon, M.D.

Emeritus (Active) Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology/Stem Cell Transplantation), Stanford University School of Medicine

John Bell

Retired President, Golden Bear Travel

Steve Cutter

President, Lockehouse

Rob Goldsby, M.D.

Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, UCSF

Patrick Henry

Certified Financial Planner, Hanson McClain

Kent Jolly, M.D.

Pediatrics Hematology and Oncology, The Permanente Medical Group

Phil Underwood

Board Treasurer; Chief Operating Officer at Nexenta Systems

Andrea Comporato