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Joanna McAfee foundation closes Warner Robins office

WARNER ROBINS -- The Joanna McAfee Childhood Cancer Foundation is closing its Warner Robins office, but the organization’s mission will continue.

Jeff and Misty McAfee started the foundation in 2006 to honor the memory of their daughter, who died at the age of 6 from a rare form of cancer. For the past two years, the organization has operated out of a space on Commercial Circle, but now Jeff McAfee said they will return to operating it out of their home.

The reason, he said, is that the space was essentially provided rent free because of an agreement to renovate it through a grant to the foundation. Now the rent-free period is ending, so they are closing the office to save on overhead cost. Until a couple of weeks ago they had one paid employee who worked full-time in the office, but that position has been eliminated and the office has been closed since then.

“The main thing is we want to refocus our mission objectives so that we can best use the resources we have,” McAfee said.

At its peak the foundation took in about $200,000 in a year, but now that is down to $140,000. McAfee said they could afford to keep the office open with an employee, but he would rather have the money going toward the group’s objectives of raising awareness, supporting children with cancer and funding research.

After a discussion with the board, he said the group in the future plans to make funding research its primary emphasis.

“What we really would like to do is continue our mission but do it in a way that is a little less resource intensive,” he said.

McAfee said the closing of the office is not related to a decline in revenue that resulted from the state raising fees for speciality tags. Motorists can get a Joanna McAfee specialty tag with portions of the proceeds benefiting the organization.

At first, motorists paid an additional $25 annual fee for the tag, with $15 going to the state and $10 to the foundation. In 2010, the state raised the fee to $35, but the nonprofits the tags benefit still only get $10. Due to the increased costs, fewer people have been renewing the specialty tags. The result is the state is still getting more money because of its increased portion, but the nonprofits have lost revenue because of fewer people getting the tags.

In 2009, the tag generated about $48,500 for the Joanna McAfee foundation, McAfee said. In 2011, it generated about $34,000.

However, McAfee said that isn’t the main reason the foundation’s income is down $60,000 from its peak. He blamed that more on the state of the economy.

“I am perfectly happy where we are,” McAfee said. “We are going to continue to memorialize Joanna and continue our mission objectives. We are just going to have to do it on a smaller scale.”

For more information on the group or to donate, go to www.supportcancerkids.org.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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