Among an audience of more than 700 supporters, patients and corporate partners at the organization’s annual Blue Jeans & Bowties Ball, held on Jan. 30, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF) announced the official launch of a $3 million capital campaign and the organization’s biggest project to date — building The UCF House.

The campaign is the most ambitious fundraising initiative in UCF’s 18-year history and includes a priority to serve an unmet need of patients in the community, providing free housing for young adult cancer patients and their families while receiving treatment in Baltimore.

“Young adult patients age out of many other facilities or don’t find critical peer support at non-age specific facilities. With treatment protocols that require them to stay near hospitals for long periods of time, housing can be crippling financially and prevents some young adults from receiving treatment at top-notch Baltimore hospitals,” said Brock Yetso, president and CEO of UCF.

“Our organization exists to remove barriers and drive change; for years we’ve wanted to make this home away from home for young adult cancer patients and their families a reality, and now it is becoming one,” he said.

East Madison

Through a strategic collaboration with East Baltimore Development Inc. (EBDI), UCF was able to acquire four attached row homes on East Madison Street, just north of the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus. “We’ve been welcomed into the community by EBDI, and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the neighborhood’s transformation,” said Yetso.

UCF also has the support of District 45 legislators Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden and Del. Cory V. McCray, who are sponsoring a bond bill requesting funds for the project. “Fostering relationships between the public and private sectors is key to addressing challenges in our city, and I am encouraged and inspired by UCF’s interest in helping to strengthen our community,” said McCray.

Visioning sessions with medical professionals, patients and caregivers and planning meetings with architects and builders led to the design of a comfortable and supportive residence that will include eight family suites, a gym/wellness space, a relaxation space, a resource library and outdoor space in the forms of a backyard and a rooftop deck. It will be located within blocks of Johns Hopkins Hospital and a short distance from other downtown Baltimore cancer centers.

Dr. Kenneth Cooke, director of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, works closely with young adult cancer patients and supports efforts to open The UCF House. “Young adults fighting cancer face real challenges when it comes to finding affordable housing during treatment, in particular when they have to stay within a few miles of the hospital for 100 days after a bone marrow transplant. The UCF House will meet this need and offer a place where young adults can find much-needed peer support and a sense of community,” he said.

Capital Campaign

The House will cost approximately $1 million to build and open, and $200,000 to operate each year. UCF’s capital campaign target of $3 million comes with three priorities — to build the House and raise funds to operate it for the first three years, to grow the organization’s endowment and to enhance existing programming for young adults and families impacted by cancer.

The organization has reached two-thirds of the campaign goal thanks to lead gifts from The Kirk Family Foundation, The Geaton and JoAnn DeCesaris Foundation, The Bradley T. MacDonald Family Foundation and The Family of Jamie L. Roberts. Every UCF staff member has made a personal contribution to the campaign, with total staff giving exceeding $100,000.

At the Blue Jeans & Bowties Ball, when the campaign was officially launched, an inspired audience made gifts totaling more than $100,000 towards the campaign. The event raised well over $300,000 in proceeds.

The UCF House is expected to break ground before the close of the first quarter with a projected completion date before the end of the year.

New Home for UCF

UCF has a new home, as well. The Ulman Cancer Fund Headquarters is now at 1215 East Fort Avenue, Suite 104, in Baltimore, just down the street from its former office in Locust Point. It’s located inside the Banner Building, formerly the old Phillips Seafood Building.