West Texas Gifts of Hope has many things going — an upcoming Cancer Sucks Fest on Aug. 13, Paint the Park in September and a building campaign to expand its facilities.

Executive Director Brenda Medlock said the building campaign will kick off Aug. 13.

The current building at 700 W. First St. officially opened in 2014.

Plans are to keep their current building and add on to it. The campaign will kick off in August.

“… I’m praying that we can raise the funds to do that by the end of this year and we can start next year,” Medlock said.

Currently, they are considering adding two rooms with the possibility of four.

“… Because out of all the weeks that we’ve been here for this year, maybe two weeks we have not been full,” Medlock said.

Additional patients have been put up at the Elegante Hotel.

“They have helped us out so much when we are 100% occupied. I call Laurie (Winkler) to see if there are any way we could have someone stay there. We do pay for it. They give us a discounted rate …,” Medlock said.

When there is an opening, patients return to Gifts of Hope.

“… Charle and Wayne Scott and Mary Carlson were the ones who started the campaign to build Hope House because there were patients coming in from out of town and there is a Midland Gifts of Hope over in Midland,” Medlock said.

Since people were passing through Odessa to get to the facility in Midland, which is not affiliated with the one in Odessa, they thought why not open one in Odessa.

“So the campaign started. And what Charle did is Mueller has a campaign every year for nonprofits to build a building and Charle sat down and did a letter and she was in the top 50. From the top 50, she was in the top 10 and from the top 10 she was selected,” Medlock said.

“Every year, Mueller teams up with the popular television show Texas Country Reporter to find a deserving nonprofit organization in Texas to receive a free Mueller building,” the company website said. “The first week of October, Mueller personnel from our corporate office and branch locations travel to the location of the winning non-profit and erect the building for their organization. Texas Country Reporter is on site during the build to film the build and capture the special moments such as the dedication ceremony, where the nonprofit organization will receive the keys to their new building.”

Medlock said there are four rooms at West Texas Gifts of Hope. People have to be from at least 30 miles outside of Ector County to receive services. The nonprofit serves people throughout West Texas, plus Hobbs, Jal and Carlsbad, N.M.

“So we can do four patients, plus caregivers,” she said.

The average stay is six to eight weeks. Some who are undergoing chemotherapy stay every other week, Medlock said.

“When they’re doing chemo, they stay an average of just three days. One day with the pump (for the infusion) on and then waiting one day and then the third day the pump is taken off,” she said.

People are not charged for their stays, but they should bring food. West Texas Gifts of Hope provides water, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Sometimes, they offer Gatorade and soda.

Gifts of Hope also provides sheets, towels, blankets, paper towels, toilet tissue, wigs, turbans and new patient care bags.

“It’s all supplied. There’s no charge,” Medlock said.

She added that they are “shocked” at how many patients receive the bags.

“This one, we have an average of about 18 to 23 new patients every month (that have) received new patient bags for chemo and we have about 17 patients receiving this new bag for radiation. It just kind of blows your mind. …,” Medlock said.

She added that you wouldn’t think there would be that many people getting treatment, but COVID had an impact on people going to the doctor.

Transportation also is provided.

“For Ector County, we have Uber and taxi service. We have a wonderful person from Uber that has just helped us out because for Ector County, that goes all the way west and then when you go past Ector County Coliseum that’s considered north, so that’s not the city limits. Every once in a while a patient will have to go over to Midland to have tests done … so we will pay for that transportation also. So we have Midessa Taxi Service and then we have a Uber service. Then people who stay here sometimes the families drop them off and they may not be able to walk across the street, so we also pay for a taxi service to take them from here over to Texas Oncology,” Medlock said.

There are others who would rather not stay at Hope House, preferring to undergo their chemo and go home, so they also provide gas cards.

Also if someone is going to San Antonio, for example, Hope House will help them, as well.

Medlock said she saw the ad for an executive director of Hope House and she used to attend church with Tommy and Barbara Henderson. They thought she would be wonderful in the job.

“I do come from a family that loves to give back,” Medlock said.

She went through the interview process and was selected.

“As I started working here I was shocked at the things that we give assistance to and so thankful. We serve lunches over there … for the chemo patients because they are there for four to six hours and that could be the only meal they receive. Five days a week, we have volunteers that … go to each person and ask what would you like? We have peanut butter and jelly; we have chicken salad; we have tuna salad; we have pimento cheese; and we have ham or ham and cheese. They can have two sandwiches if they like and it has just been wonderful. They get chips, they get cookies and they get a drink with that …,” Medlock said.

They also offer Jell-O and soup.

“One of the things we want to start doing is apples, oranges and bananas for them to take home because a lot of the patients are single. That’s the only meal they will receive. … Some will eat one sandwich here and they take the other sandwich home. We really do try now we’ve added juices to what we offer so it’s just rewarding. We average probably about 23 sandwiches a day,” she said.

They stopped providing sandwiches for a week or two during COVID and then started offering brown bag lunches for delivery to West Texas Oncology Center.

“That happened for almost two years. And then this year, we were allowed back in. We have some wonderful volunteers that stuck with us. They know the patients and they were so happy to get back in because they also expanded over at Texas Oncology. They added eight more seats, so now they can take in 32 patients to do chemo at one time,” Medlock said.

Cancer Sucks Fest on Aug. 13 will be held at La Hacienda. It will feature the Casey Donahew Band with special guests Kevin Fowler and Treaty Oak Revival.

Gates open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available at stubwire.com, an event flyer said.

Paint the Park will be from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 24.

Kimberly Watkins, president of the West Texas Gifts of Hope board, said she got involved in the organization when Monica Tschauner was executive director and had gone to two of the organization’s fundraisers.

Watkins said her father, aunt and several close friends are cancer survivors. Tschauner asked if Watkins would be interested in being on the board.

Watkins said she thinks what West Texas Gifts of Hope does to help is really cool.

She noted that while the building campaign kicks off Aug. 13, it has been in the works for several years.

“We have a lot of patients from the Presidio area and Alpine. It’s just not feasible for them to drive back and forth, especially if they’re really ill …,” she said.

She added that the location, which is near Medical Center, is convenient and the rooms are large enough for a patient and a caregiver.

If people would like to donate, they can call the Gifts of Hope office or visit the link on the West Texas Gifts of Hope website. There are general admission and VIP tables for the Cancer Sucks concert.

“No donation is too small. We’re always grateful for any support,” Watkins said.