For and about Cancer Survivors in Second Life, and for anyone who has been touched by cancer

Saturday, January 31, 2009

ACS unfolds plans to expand its support programs in SL

Stingray9798 Raymaker (the American Cancer Society representative in SL) is the first to acknowledge that he is a "noob", who once managed to delete an entire building. (You're not the only one, Sting. I managed to delete my house!) But his vision of how ACS will evolve in the future is far from rudimentary.

Speaking at Nonprofit Week last Thursday, Sting used the opportunity to unfold ACS plans to expand its support group program in SL to match its RL programs, as well as offering help and advice to other nonprofits.

He first outlined the current programs on the American Cancer Society sim, including The Hope Haven which he described as "the cornerstone of how the ACS provides much needed support for cancer survivors who live in Second Life", the "Makeover Magic" program which is scheduled to happen twice in 2009, and a breast cancer education and awareness program based on the real life Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program.

New projects include the Media Library, where avatars can browse resources of information, and a new series of lectures on cancer information organized by Ren Stonecutter, a RL physician who is already a popular speaker on the island.

Forthcoming plans include a support group (Man to Man) for men only, and another program, Reach to Recovery, for breast cancer survivors to “mentor” newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Another, more aggressive plan involves access to the ACS's National Cancer Information Center. The NCIC consists of cancer specialists who currently answer all phone calls (24/7) to the ACS toll free hotline…1-800-ACS-2345. Emphasizing that this is still in the very early stages of development, Sting continued: "If this project is rolled out, we would be able to provide immediate information and resources to cancer patients and loved ones in-world just the same as we do when they call on the phone in RL. I do not mean to create an expectation that this will become available in the near future - but it is one of my pet projects that I will work diligently on because the need is so great."

In closing, Sting offered the following thoughts to nonprofits and also mentioned that ACS will in future be offering its meeting spaces to nonprofits who do not own their own sim:

"Since entering Second Life, the American Cancer Society has existed on the support of one staff person and countless volunteers. Our budget allocation is minimal, at best, and we exist primarily because of generous volunteers who donate their time and talent.

"The key to our success has always been the organization’s willingness to support and legitimize our volunteers’ efforts. It shouldn’t take a lot of money to exist in SL, if you stay true to the mission of your organization."

Orange Island and the Nonprofit Commons teamed up to present Nonprofit Week which was held from Monday, January 26th to Thursday, January 29th.

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