The Salmon Arm branch of the Canadian Cancer Society will be celebrating 80 years of operation in the community with an open house March 28, inviting the public to get an inside look into the vital work they do to support cancer patients and raise funds and awareness for research.
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature a showcase of the Cancer Society’s fundraising and awareness campaigns, as well as a tour of their offices and exposure to some of the less well-known supports they offer for patients and caregivers in the region.
Jen Dies, who manages the Salmon Arm branch of the Cancer Society, says she is continually surprised by the support the organization receives from the community.
“Salmon Arm is known for their generosity, and not only in their time but in their fundraising as well,” she says. “I am incredibly proud of what our volunteers do… I think that’s incredible, it’s a huge contribution to the people in this area. They are among the most compassionate, empathetic people you will meet.”
In fact, just converting the daily volunteer hours to a dollar figure, using minimum wage as a baseline, totals up to well over $625,000 in support to the Cancer Society over their lifetime. This is not including the increased amount of volunteers needed for the Cancer Society’s fundraising events such as the Relay for Life and Curl for Cancer events the society holds yearly.
“Our Relay for Life event is one of the Cancer Society’s signature events, and we now are the only event left in the entire region, and our Curl for Cancer event just celebrated its 21st anniversary. The longevity of these events I think speaks for itself,” Dies says.
In addition to volunteer support from the Salmon Arm community, Dies reports that their wig-room receives donations of hair from the local community almost daily, quite a feat for a relatively small community. This hair is used to make wigs for patients undergoing treatments that result in hair loss and can help immensely in boosting their confidence and curbing the effect cancer might have on their sense of self-esteem.
Beyond simply providing information and expressing the Cancer Society’s gratitude for the community support they receive, Dies hopes the 80th anniversary open house will raise awareness that they are here to help anyone in the region whose lives are affected by cancer.
“We want people to know we’re here and what we have to offer, and our support programs,” she says. “Over and over again we hear from people that until they need us, they don’t know we’re here… I think it’s so important not only for people that are going through a brand new cancer journey but also for their care givers, they need that support too and we can offer that.”