Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Local Nonprofit Spotlight, where we highlight and introduce a local nonprofit’s inception and mission! Today we are featuring Hair For You Foundation whose mission is to assist in the purchase of a wig, due to medical hair loss, to children ages 18 years and younger in the state of Illinois! We had the pleasure to speak with two-time cancer survivor, warrior-in-chief, RN at Lurie Children’s and local mama, and founder of Hair For You Foundation’s Rebecca Boumstein!
Hi Rebecca! Please introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Rebecca Boumstein. I grew up in Deerfield and now live in Arlington Heights with my husband and 2 year old son. I am the president and founder of the Hair For You Foundation.
What is Hair For You Foundation’s mission?
The Hair For You Foundation distributes funds to assist in the purchase of a wig, due to medical hair loss, to children ages 18 years old and younger being treated in the state of Illinois. Our wish is to increase confidence in one’s outward appearance and to help provide the inner-confidence needed as they face each day. We hope to improve their overall well-being while experiencing an overwhelming and difficult time in their life.
Tell us about Hair For You Foundation. How does your foundation speak to you personally?
I founded the Hair For You Foundation in 2002 through Lutheran General Hospital. As a junior in high school, I was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of cervical cancer and underwent nine months of chemotherapy. At age 19, I relapsed. I had a total hysterectomy followed by five months of intense chemotherapy. While going through chemotherapy I lost all of my hair twice. Being able to buy a wig made all the difference. I realized that not all families were able to afford a wig and that in many cases buying a wig for medical hair loss was not covered by insurance companies. That is when I decided to create the Hair For You Foundation. I wanted others to feel the deeply positive impact I felt and wanted others to feel a sense of normalcy when almost nothing was “normal” about their lives. In 2013, we became became our own entity and were granted 501(c)3 nonprofit status in order to expand our mission and help more children and teenagers.
I am in awe over how you’ve turned such an unimaginable time into energy spent making other cancer patients feel special. Speaking about the people that Hair For You Foundation serves, how do families learn about this important resource?
Families can visit our website to learn more information or talk to their hospital social worker for more information or help applying to our foundation.
How many many wigs would you say you’ve been able to provide since the inception of HFYF?
We have awarded money to help pay for 12 wigs since 2016. We usually do about 3 per year.
How much does a wig typically cost?
A wig can cost anywhere from $10 to $5,000. The average cost we see from our applicants is about $3,500. Like anything, the cost of a wig goes along with quality. A $10 wig is fake hair you can get from a costume shop. A $3,500 wig is usually human hair and hand sewn.
Was it difficult to start this nonprofit? How did you turn an idea into something tangible?
It was originally started through the hospital I was treated at, which made it very easy to set up an organization through their foundation. In order to expand our mission and help more children and teens, we needed to become our own entity. It definitely took some work to do so and to be granted 501(c)3 nonprofit status. Luckily we had a lot of help from a legal team who was able to guide us through the process.
What’s on the horizon for Hair For You Foundation?
We hope we will be able to bring back our annual family fun day in September 2021 or whenever if it safe to do so and continue to distribute funds for the purchase of wigs.
Who would you like to thank for the formation and success of Hair For You Foundation and why?
The Hair For You Foundation wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of my family, especially my husband. Everyone has put their heart and soul into making this organization what it is today. Also thank you to our board and our volunteers. Most important, thank you to our generous donors and supporters.
How do our readers contribute and/or volunteer their time?
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@HairForYouFoundation) to learn about upcoming events and information. Let us know if and how you want to get involved! If you’d like to make a financial contribution, please visit https://www.hairforyoufoundation.org/donate. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Hair For You Foundation!