I was at a meeting recently at the Cancer Community Center in South Portland and happened to notice two women painting brightly colored designs on a child’s rocking chair. Curious, I poked my head through the door to get a closer look.
Longtime Cancer Community Center volunteers Marcia Gelkey and Pat Deignan were putting finishing touches on the chair for the annual online auction — which just happens to be going on right now. The Center provides all kinds of support programs for people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families. Support groups, a buddy program, educational workshops, crafts, exercise, dancing … lots of things. It’s a non-profit organization and doesn’t charge for any programs, so relies heavily on volunteers, grants, donations, fundraising events and an annual online auction to continue doing all that is does.
At first, I was just going to take a picture of Marcia and Pat and their chair and put it on the Catching Health Facebook page to help plug the auction. Then I got to wondering why they were volunteers and the next thing you know I was interviewing these extremely accommodating and gracious women.
Marcia was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. She started going to the Cancer Community Center two years later. “I was new to the area,” she told me, “and trying to deal with everything else. It kept me busy. I love doing crafts and could do some here. Now I also teach.”
Ten years ago, soon after she learned she had ovarian cancer, Pat signed up for a class at the Center on macrobiotic cooking with Meg Woolf. “I wanted to find out whatever I could to improve my chances of survival,” she says. “Because of the class, I totally changed the way I eat — less meat and dairy and lots more fruit and vegetables.”
So, why do Marcia and Pat keep going back to the Cancer Community Center all these years later? Why do they volunteer and take the time to paint a rocking chair that any child would love to own (hint, hint)?
“Everyone at the Cancer Community Center has been so generous to us, it’s simply our chance to give back,” says Pat.
“Sometimes you get more from giving than receiving,” adds Marcia. “Here, we get and we give.”
If you’d like to give to the Cancer Community Center and get something like the rocking chair in return, check out the online auction. The chair should be on the auction website about a week from now. (I’m writing this on March 13, 2014)
Full Disclosure: I am a volunteer member of the Cancer Community Center’s Marketing/PR committee. It is most decidedly an organization worth my time and efforts.