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Good Deeds: Spotlight on Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Maryland/Southern Delaware chapter

Nonprofit organizations abound in Howard County, and Howard Magazine highlights who they are, what they do and how you can help.

Name: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America
Who: Allison Coffey, regional director for the Mid-Atlantic Division

Q: What is your mission?

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to finding the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It was founded in 1967 by Irwin M. and Suzanne Rosenthal, William D. and Shelby Modell, and Dr. Henry D. Janowitz.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are incurable chronic diseases of the intestinal tract. Both diseases have similar symptoms but are different in the manner in which they affect the digestive tract. Each disease also has different surgical options and may be treated with a spectrum of diverse medications. The most common symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) include, but are not limited to, abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, rectal bleeding, skin and eye irritations, and diarrhea.

Q: What kinds of programs and services do you provide?

Since our founding more than four decades ago, CCFA has remained at the forefront of research in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Today we fund cutting-edge studies at major medical institutions, nurture investigators at the early stages of their careers, and finance underdeveloped areas of research. In addition, our educational workshops and programs, along with our scientific journal, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, enable medical professionals to keep pace with this rapidly growing field. We are very proud that the National Institutes of Health has commended us for “uniting the research community and strengthening IBD research.”

CCFA has invested more than $167 million in research, funding studies at major medical institutions and nurturing investigators at the beginning of their careers.

CCFA is the leader in research, education and patient support for IBD. A champion for the one in 200 Americans who suffer from these diseases, CCFA strives to inspire, instill hope, and create a community that empowers patients and improves their quality of life.

Disease-specific education, support, and treatment information is available through CCFA’s Information Resource Center (IRC). Contact the IRC toll-free at 888-694-8872, or visit

CCFA also offers patient support services and comprehensive literature to build awareness locally and nationally through its 40 regional chapters.

Q: How many volunteers are a part of your organization, and what types of roles do they play?

Nationally, we have more than 50,000 members who support various initiatives, ranging from advocacy efforts at the state and national level, to patient and professional education, to various adult and pediatric support services. 

Q: Is there a cost to those who use your services?

All our patient education programs, education materials, and support services are provided free to the community. 

Additionally, becoming a CCFA member (for a minimal yearly pledge) gives you unique access to our services and information, while simultaneously helping to support our three mission-critical programs: research, education, and support services. We will also keep you up-to-date on research, education, and support initiatives both locally and nationally through our award-winning national semiannual online magazine, Take Charge; local chapter newsletters; our research newsletter, Under the Microscope; as well as special e-mail updates.  As a member, you will receive a membership card with “I Can’t Wait” language on the back to help you explain Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to the outside world. Most importantly, you will have the gratification of knowing that you are advancing research for better quality of life and eventual cures for those living with IBD.

Q: Any important dates or events planned this fall and winter?

Friday, Nov. 16, 2012 — Spotlight Dinner & Auction.  7 – 11 p.m. at The American Visionary Art Museum.

The CCFA Spotlight Dinner & Auction is an exciting event that pays tribute to our brave friends, relatives, and colleagues battling Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, while raising money to support our mission of finding cures for these debilitating diseases. Top local chefs create their signature dishes in a sample size and beautifully present them to our guests. Our event’s elegant combination of fabulous food and cocktails, stimulating conversation, good company, priceless auction packages, and a great cause will create an evening to remember.

Q: What is the satisfaction you and your team gain from your role in this organization?

We love our jobs, because more than 1.4 million American adults and children are affected by digestive diseases — one out of every 200! So many suffer in silence, but the events and programs we help plan are changing that, by bringing those with IBD together publicly and encouraging them to make noise and be heard. The money we raise helps support patient programs, enhances professional education efforts, and propels critical research for a cure.  It’s great to get out of bed each day knowing you’re working to make a positive impact in people’s lives.

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