Strange karma forces Jim and Mina Buck to liquidate their Happy Place store this weekend, Nov. 10-11, whose principal inventory are t-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” a lyric popularized by singer Bobby McFerrin.
The shirts have served as rallying cry and bread-winner for their volunteer nonprofit, the Don’t Worry Be Happy Foundation, which relocated to Laguna Beach in May. It was established three years ago to serve as a financial and psychological conduit for cancer victims, whose medical battles often also exhaust economic resources as well. T-shirt campaigns serve as the foundation’s primary fundraising tool.
The faces of the 36 cancer “warriors” the Bucks are assisting, including three Laguna Beach residents, ring their store at 1042 N. Coast Highway. The couple, who previously lived in Yorba Linda, live above the shop.
“We thought the store would catch on and it didn’t,” said Jim Buck, who established the foundation and embraced the happy mantra of his nephew, Kevin Carlberg, who also died from cancer.
Now, Mina Buck, too, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. “She’s been going full speed for three years,” Jim said. “I can’t let her go on. She needs time for herself.”
He intends to collapse the nonprofit into an online entity alone or move to a smaller space. He has yet to negotiate with his landlord.
“There’s a purpose to it that we haven’t quite figured out,” he said, noting that the couple’s relationships with cancer victims has made them skeptical of established cancer treatments. “Cancer is a huge wake-up call; it means to stop and change everything. We’ve been preaching this.”
Now, the Bucks intend to follow their own advice.
Coincidentally, we received this missive:
Dear Laguna Beach families,
In the spirit of community I’m asking for help in starting a chain reaction within our community. This is not something that I normally find myself doing, but I was touched by the story of a Laguna Beach woman who is fighting breast cancer. She is the mother of a 4th grader the same age as my daughter. She reached out to me, a virtual stranger, because she knew I had survived breast cancer and she was certain I would understand what she was going through. She could not have been more wrong.
Yes, I understand fighting cancer, the tests, treatment, surgery, doctors, and all the associated fears. But I have a husband, family and friends who provided me with an extraordinary level of love and support, and continue to do so. I never had to worry about how I would put food on the table, keep a roof over my head, or how to pay the mountains of medical bills, all while working and helping with homework between chemotherapy treatments and wondering how to keep it all together through surgery and healing. What I came to understand is that my experience was very different than the one that this single mom is having.
She asked for my help in getting the word out that funds are being raised to help her, and 35 other cancer “warriors” through the Laguna based Don’t Worry Be Happy Foundation, a 501C(3) IRS-approved non-profit #27-4118374. The foundation is actively raising funds to help subsidize living and medical expenses for 36 cancer “warriors”, of which at least three are Laguna Beach families with the remaining majority living in Orange County. The foundation is helping to pay housing, food, gas, and medical expenses for those financially devastated by this disease. They are also providing stress-relieving support in managing finances, paying bills, and filling out applications for aid through all other available resources, as well as negotiating medical payment plans, and providing cancer education and emotional support. What a gift to have such a foundation right here in our community.
I urge you to join me in helping to create a “Laguna Cares” campaign by going online today at www.dwbhshirts.com to purchase your DWBH shirt to wear in support of Don’t Worry be Happy Day on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. You can choose a warrior to sponsor or choose Laguna Cares. I have pledged to donate $1 to the DWBH foundation for each t-shirt sold, or tax- deductible donation made by Nov. 16 to the Laguna Cares warrior campaign (with a minimum commitment of $1000). You may also visit the Don’t Worry Be Happy retail location here in town at 1042 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 715-6789. The Happy Place store is staffed by volunteers; there are no paid salaries, and no retail rent being paid with foundation funds. Additional information can be obtained at the retail store or found online at www.DWBHshirts.com or www.DontWorryBeHappyFoundation.org.
Please know that by purchasing and wearing a DWBH shirt, you are sending a powerful message of encouragement to the warriors within our community while providing the desperately needed funds to continue their battles. By spreading the word to others, you may just help another warrior become aware of help available for their battle. The foundation will make sure that all funds raised with our efforts will go directly to help those with the greatest needs within our community.
Please purchase your DWBH shirt to wear on Nov. 16 for Don’t Worry Be Happy Day and help us spread the word that Laguna Cares!
In the spirit of community, I thank you for your support, kindness and compassion.
Toni Kellenberg, Laguna Beach