By Lori Vanny Ke
Over 300 people came to celebrate the grand opening of the Don’t Worry Be Happy Foundation’s (DWBHF) new store, The HAPPY Place, on Sunday, May 6, in North Laguna Beach.
DWBHF is an organization that aims to improve the lives of those suffering with cancer. The co-founders, who also happen to be husband and wife, Jim and Mina Buc, started the organization after their nephew, Kevin Carlberg, passed away due to cancer. DWBHF started small, but grew into a successful online store in two years.
“Kevin wore a 'Don't Worry Be Happy' shirt during his seven years after being diagnosed with glioblastoma stage-four brain cancer," said Mina. "After Kevin passed in August of 2009, we decided to do something in Kevin's memory. He embodied the message.”
Mina first duplicated the shirt for her immediate family members to help them cope with the loss, but soon more people were inquiring about the shirts. “I decided to do something to help others, as Kevin did, in his lifetime, in his memory,” Mina commented.
Their first HAPPY Place store was in Corona Del Mar, and now they have one in Laguna Beach at 1042 N. Coast Hwy.
“Our primary purpose is to help families by selling our shirts. It helps pay their bills,” co-founder Jim Buc said. “We want Laguna Beach to be a 'Don’t Worry Be Happy' City.”
For Sunday's grand opening, the store was stocked with shirts and tees ranging from v-neck styles to casual hoodies in a wide array of colors. Every item had the slogan “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Prices varied from $20-$50.
DWBHF raised a total of $10,000 from shirt sales as well as from raffle and auction items donated by local Laguna Beach businesses such as and Lorin Backe Beach Photography. All proceeds will go to cancer patients who are warrior members of DWBHF.
The DWBHF runs on all volunteer help. Proceeds of the sales help pay the bills of the active 31 warriors on the organization’s website. Money from sales goes toward insurance, utilities, food, gas, and more. Interested donaters can choose the cancer warriors they want the proceeds to go to.
Volunteer Melissa Brasher said, “This organization helps people connect to patients. There is an emotional connection between donaters and the patients.”
With the opening of the DWBHF store in Laguna Beach, Jim Buc hopes the store will be “the happy place” people can go to and support others in need. He wants people to focus on wellness, rather than the stressful activities in their daily lives.
“It has helped all of our warriors, not only monetarily, but the love and support by seeing everyone wearing DWBH shirts for them is life-changing,” Mina Buc adds. “What in life is better than knowing you have support and love through some of our most difficult times?”