Helping out: ‘I was the most fortunate cancer patient around’

Who: LuAnn Dean, president and founder of PS Charities.

Company: Professional Solutions

Charitable giving highlights: The company’s charity, PS Charities, has donated nearly $500,000 for short-term financial assistance to military families and to cancer patients.

Tell me about the company’s philanthropy.

My husband is a 22-year Marine. He retired in 2001 and decided to start his own company, Professional Solutions. I work for him. Once we made a profit, we chose organizations to give to. Near and dear to our hearts was the Marine Corps. Then in 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I told my doctor that when I was done with my recovery, I was going to give back. We have since given to the George Washington University Hospital’s Breast Care Center. In 2009, we decided to start a charity. Everything that is related to both missions — helping military families and helping patients in the fight against cancer — comes through PS Charities.

Tell me about the moment you wanted to give back.

The military side is easy. I’m a 22-year retired Marine wife. I saw every day what military wives go through. But when I was diagnosed with cancer and I was going through chemotherapy, I would listen to people’s stories. I know it sounds crazy but I felt I was the most fortunate cancer patient around. I worked for my husband. If I didn’t feel good, I could work from the house. I took my laptop to my chemo sessions. But it was during my chemo treatment when I sat in that chair, and I was with other patients all in a big circle, I heard the women talk about their issues. ‘I have to change my chemo session because I can’t pay for a baby sitter.’ ‘I have to take the Metro to chemo.’ ‘I can’t get this nausea medication because I don’t have enough money.’ I knew it wasn’t right, and we had to do something to help.

What are some activities you do?

We have two or three major events each year, including two golf tournaments. We raise between $250,000 to $350,000 each year. We have been very involved early this year in a project to build a house for the most-wounded Marines in the most recent conflicts that the nation has been in. Also, we just helped a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer and let go of her job in the same month. She was having some really hard times keeping up with her car payments. She’s a single mom. We helped with some car payments, insurance and the month’s rent.

What are your greatest challenges as a nonprofit?

Our name doesn’t really say what we support. Our challenge is delivering that message. Also, it has been really difficult to find charity organizations where every dollar goes directly to supporting the patients.

How many people are on staff at PS Charities?

We have two part-time people — me and an event coordinator.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

 
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