It’s been nearly a year since the Canadian Cancer Society reopened its west coast office in Corner Brook, and from all accounts it’s been a good year for the office.
“You can feel it almost day to day here, the growth. You know, the increase in phone calls, the increase in emails, the increase of foot traffic,” said Janice Wellon, the local community resource co-ordinator, at the office in the CIBC Building on Main Street on Tuesday.
Wellon was joined by Matthew Piercey, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society - Newfoundland and Labrador Division, and Al Pelley, vice-president of philanthropy, who spent the past two days visiting the office and connecting with the community.
Winding the clock back to one year ago, Pelley said he knows there was a lot of skepticism within the region and in Corner Brook about the future of the Canadian Cancer Society in western Newfoundland.
The office had been closed for about four months. Its two employees left at the same time to pursue other work opportunities.
“It was a challenging time for the Cancer Society because we were going through a merger at the time with the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation,” said Pelley.
“So, there were a lot of things happening that really weren’t in our control at the time, but there was always a commitment to maintain staff in this region.”
The office started out with just Wellon on staff and Piercey and Pelley agree she
has done a lot in the community to build and rebuild relationships.
Pelley considers the Corner Brook Relay for Life held in October as a highlight for the year and credits Wellon with its success.
The event raised nearly $39,000, about $23,000 more than the previous one.
The office has also added a health promotions position. Heather Mousseau travels the region delivering messages about healthy lifestyles, UV protection, eating healthy, healthy weight and stopping smoking, with a specific target on youth.
Piercey said the people who visit the office come for a variety of reasons. Some for practical supports — wigs, turbans and prostheses — others for advice or information.
He said there is a high demand right across the province for practical support items.
“Some of them don’t even leave with a wig, but they leave empowered. And they spend that hour in here talking to our volunteers, talking to our staff and it’s about working with that person where they are.
“A lot of times they just want to be heard, they want their concerns and their fears listened to.”
Both Piercey and Pelley say the society is committed to keeping the office staffed and offering more support for years to come.