When Shango opened its doors in 2014, only a few states had legalized the commercial cultivation and sale of cannabis. The legal cannabis industry was in its infancy and the sudden appearance of cannabis dispensaries on Main Streets throughout these states was greeted with equal measures of celebration and suspicion.

Shango wanted to assure each community hosting our dispensaries and cultivations that Shango was a legitimate, professional, law-abiding business just like any other local farm or retailer. That our customers were just like any other shoppers and our employees were good citizens and good neighbors. That Shango would make a positive contribution to the economic vitality and the social and cultural life of the community.

As a result, community involvement has become a cornerstone of our business model and an important part of our ongoing success. One of the most effective ways we serve our communities is by donating our time, efforts and money to worthwhile local initiatives and charitable organizations.

Shango provides support for U.S. military veterans and breast cancer survivors, disaster and pandemic victims, and families in need of food and gifts during the holidays. Here are just a few of the stories that document our history of giving.

Breast Cancer Victims, Survivors and Caregivers

Shango is a staunch ally in the battle against breast cancer armed with donations from the company, its customers and its employees. Shango began supporting breast cancer charities five years ago at its dispensary in Portland, Oregon, and has since expanded its fundraising efforts to communities in Nevada and California.

“Shango believes in building long-term relationships with purposeful local charities,” said Shango Controller Julie Dubocq. “We seek out charities in the same communities as our dispensaries. This helps us get to know the people who work for each charity and become directly involved in its mission and fundraising.”

Shango dispensaries sell its signature line of pink merchandise year-round to raise money for worthwhile organizations that serve cancer patients and survivors, as well as their families and caregivers. They also accept direct donations and employee contributions. One hundred percent of all pink merchandise profits, as well as other donations benefit Shango’s breast cancer charitable partners.

In these financially challenging times when many breast cancer charities are having difficulty raising funds, these organizations, particularly the national charities, rarely accept donations from cannabis companies even though their products can make a significant, positive difference in the quality of life for breast cancer patients and survivors.

“Cannabis companies are respected, successful businesses, cannabis sales generate significant tax revenue in the majority of states and the medical benefits of cannabis are now widely recognized,” Dubocq said. “But for some reason, the misperception of ‘weed’ as a danger to users and society persists, at least in some boardrooms and donor databases.”

However, despite Shango’s strong commitment and good intentions, it’s not always easy to find charities that welcome donations from a cannabis company. Many local and national breast cancer charities refuse money raised by cannabis companies and/or from the sale of cannabis products. Shango found an ideal partner in Breast Friends.

Over the first four years of our relationship. Shango Portland contributed more than $12,300 from pink merchandise sales to Breast Friends while also honoring a breast cancer patient with the first-ever Courage Award and a $1,000 gift.

“We just love this organization, its mission, its staff and the women they serve,” said Shango Portland Controller Julie Dubocq. “Shango is proud to partner with Breast Friends and support its mission to serve breast cancer survivors.”

Breast Friends Co-Founder Becky Olson, who passed away recently from breast cancer, initiated the relationship with Shango in 2018 and said at the time, “Shango has given us a whole new perspective on cannabis. We are glad they found us. Our position has always been that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither do we.”

“Shango is honored to serve these brave cancer survivors,” Dubocq said. “Providing resources that can help them succeed on their journey to recovery has become an essential part of our charitable giving.”

We recently initiated the annual of the Courage Award to honor a breast cancer survivor who best exemplifies the courage shown by Olson, who battled back from four bouts with breast cancer.

The first recipient, Pamela George received a check for $1,000, a $250 gift card from Shango and had her name inscribed on plaques that hang permanently at the Shango dispensary and at Breast Friends headquarters in Tigard, Oregon. The plaques read, “In honor of their profound valor and steadfast perseverance, Breast Friends and Shango of Oregon present Pamela George with the 2021 Becky Olson Courage Award.”

“Breast Friends is so appreciative of the generosity and support of Shango,” said Allison Hancock, executive director of Breast Friends. “The Becky Olson Courage Award is beautiful and the recipient that we chose to receive the award was overwhelmed and very thankful for the check that was given to her. The money will be very helpful to cover the cost of unexpected expenses. It helps to ease the worry and exhaustion of navigating a cancer diagnosis and the financial stress that comes along, too.”

“Partnering with Shango has been a reminder to us of the great community support that we receive,” Hancock said. “This year’s generous donation will help us continue to provide resources, information and support to women who are navigating their cancer diagnosis. Thank you for supporting the work that we do in ensuring that no woman goes through cancer alone.”

“Shango wants to help worthwhile organizations that make a real difference in someone’s life,” Dubocq said. “Rather than donating to a general fund, we provide money and services to charities that deliver immediate results. And with Breast Friends, it is easy to see the results.”

Statistics show that every woman in America will be touched by breast cancer or other women’s cancers. One in eight women will be diagnosed, and the other seven will know her. The Breast Friends goal is to reach the seven in order to help the one.

“This is also an amazing opportunity for Shango to be able to help out a charity that recognizes and promotes the potential benefits of medical cannabis to patients before and after surgery.” Dubocq added. “We admire their courage.”

Shango documents the path of the donation and provides photos and story information to the public. Donations can be made directly to www.breastfriends.org.

U.S. Military Veterans

Several Shango dispensaries have “adopted” a local Veterans organization and donated money to support their operations and community programs. For example, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 1325 was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by Shango Portland about donations to aid VFW members and their families. Thus far, our contributions have funded an essay contest for local school students and paid for a new roof at the VFW center.

“We would like to recognize Shango and their personnel for their thoughtfulness and generosity in supporting Veterans,” said Post Commander Bruce W Hall. “This has enabled our post to better serve our veterans and their families.”

Shango is always looking for new opportunities to serve the communities we call home and new ways to increase the personal, professional and financial support we provide. As we continue to grow in our six state markets and across America, we look forward to partnering with exceptional public, civic and charitable organizations that will help us write the next chapter in our ongoing history of giving.