When Alana Carrington lay on the floor in her house and told God she wanted a change, she was not expecting the response to come in the form of being diagnosed with cancer and later losing her job. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened.
In January of 2008, Carrington walked out of the hospital, threw her hands up in the air and started crying. She had just been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She spoke out to God and beckoned, “I told you I want to get close to you and now you’re going to kill me?”
For a short period, Carrington was bogged down by her diagnosis and said she was frustrated because she couldn’t figure out how this fits into God’s plan for her.
But after her treatment, Carrington figured out how to turn the situation into a positive. In 2012 she started the Carrington Cares Foundation (CCF), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides resources and educational outreach for cancer patients and survivors.
CCF is focused on easing the economic load for patients going through treatment. That support can be gas cards, rental assistance, or a food shelf.
CCF was formed in response to the conditions Carrington saw throughout her treatment. She became aware of how lifeless the treatment process can make people. “People around me were so sad,” she said. “I never went in there like that because I wanted to give somebody hope.”
By forming CCF, she said she hopes to provide relief for people going through treatment, so they don’t feel so hopeless. “People hear the word cancer and they get so scared,” she said, adding, “I want to be there to help them so they are not so afraid.”
There have been some bumps along the way. Carrington has had trouble getting funding for her programs, in spite of hosting two fundraisers a year — the Pink Carpet Affair in the fall and a taco party in the summer.
Also, when Carrington started CCF, she was nervous about all of the intricacies that came with starting a nonprofit and found the entire process intimidating. Consequently, it wasn’t until 2015 that CCF received the nonprofit status.
“In the beginning, I was just scared. Now it’s time to start applying and getting these grants and running these programs,” Carrington said.
Within the next two years, Carrington hopes to be working full-time at CCF, and within the next five years, she wants to expand her program state-wide and beyond.
Born in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, Carrington is the oldest of four siblings. She confesses she was not a good sister growing up. But, a look at her professional resume paints a different picture.
Carrington worked as an educational assistant for St. Paul Public Schools for 23 years, at the Salvation Army for seven years, and currently works as a case manager at the Union Gospel Mission.
“That’s just me. I am going to help you, and if I can’t, I’m going to find someone who can,” said Carrington.