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Pay it forward

Austin Tidwell, left, Barbi Slater, Kristi Daniels and Jan Fox hold envelopes with gift certificates to be raffled at fundraiser set Saturday. The Pilot/Bill Schlichting
Austin Tidwell, left, Barbi Slater, Kristi Daniels and Jan Fox hold envelopes with gift certificates to be raffled at fundraiser set Saturday. The Pilot/Bill Schlichting
Debby Phillips has been known as a community cheerleader, volunteering and spearheading fundraisers and events to raise money for the community.

She kept the community abreast of events when she worked for KURY Radio and later when she was the publicist for the Port of Brookings Harbor, not to mention a volunteer who helped organize many fundraisers including for the Brookings-Harbor High School Booster Club, Rotary Club of Brookings and Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce. 

Soon after leaving the port, she went into business on her own. But it didn’t take long before she had to shut down New2U Resale and Gifts because she was diagnosed with breast cancer on Sept. 12. And she was now faced with a bad situation: No income, no health insurance.

Now the community is paying Phillips back by helping her with her medical bills she has incurred since undergoing treatment every Wednesday after having both breasts removed at Bay Area Hospital in Coos Bay.

One fundraiser took place on Nov. 12 and raised $5,800, said Jan Fox, event organizer. 

“The outpouring of support for this courageous woman has touched all our hearts,” Fox said in an email.

Now a second one is planned from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at 101 Bar and Grill, 98141 W. Benham Lane, Harbor.

It will be a chili and corn bread feed prepared by Dori Blodgett, a champion chili chef. The cost for the food is $5. The event, for people 21 and older, will include entertainment by The Spence Brothers, raffles and a no-host bar with proceeds going toward the cause.

As for what will be raffled, the list has become plentiful and keeps growing. As of Monday there were more than 100 items, many worth more than $100.

Tickets for restaurant, hair, nails, tanning and miscellaneous gift certificates will be $1 each or six for $5. Specialty gifts and tickets for two grand prize couple’s getaway weekends in Brookings and Gold Beach are $3 each or two for $5.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Fox, who is getting help organizing the event from other volunteers. Of those, two have been working beyond the call of duty.

“Janiene Parmerlee and Barbi Slater have been pounding the streets for weeks distributing fliers and getting all of these amazing gifts for the raffle,” Fox wrote in an email.

Mike Noonan, Austin Tidwell, Kristi Daniels, Dan Daniels, Bruce Ellis, Al Usinger and Bill Cochran have also helped in addition to Fox, Parmerlee, Slater and Blodgett.  

In fact, because of the  donations, which have come from Brookings-Harbor, Crescent City and Gold Beach, organizers created a big raffle prize.

“Donations have been so unbelievable, we decided to do a grand prize drawing,” Fox said. “It will be a couple’s weekend package to Gold Beach.”

Fox became involved with raising funds to help pay Phillips’ medical expenses because she is well known in the community.

“When I first learned about it, I decided I had to do something,” Fox said.

She immediately went to the Brookings Elks and got them involved, then she got others involved, bringing about a successful fundraiser in November. When she began organizing the second benefit, the fundraising took on a life of its own.

“The community has been wonderful in its giving — that’s Brookings for you.” said Phillips, who has experienced fundraising in the community first-hand.

Fox said she is aware that there are many who need financial help when undergoing treatment for cancer.

“I don’t want to take money from anyone else,” Fox said. “But Debby has been involved all these years and it’s time to ‘pay it forward.’”

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