Wellspring Niagara halfway to goal
Dirt flies at the sod turning event on the lands at 50 Wellspring Way in Pelham, where Wellspring Niagara will call home when it reopens next year. At the event, it was announced Wellspring Niagara, which helps families cope with cancer, is halfway to its goal of raising $5 million for the new facility and future growth. From left, Wellspring Niagara Co-Chair of the board of directors Joe Matthews, Wise Guys Chairty’s Betty-Lou Souter, Rankin Construction’s Tom Rankin, Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn, Robert Mantini, Wellspring Niagara Executive Director Anne Mantini-Celima, Ontario Paper Thorold Foundation President Adrian Barnet, Lisa Bouchard, Regional Chair Alan Caslin, Dr. Janice Giesbrecht. Laura Barton/Welland Tribune/Postmedia News
Wellspring Niagara is halfway to its goal of $5 million raised to support the new facility being built at 50 Wellspring Way in Pelham.
The organization, which has helped families cope with cancer since 2001, will be moving from its current 2,000-square-foot unit in Thorold to a soon-to-be-built, 11,000-square-foot facility in Pelham.
“As Niagara’s only cancer support centre, the demand for our services are at an all-time high,” said Anne Mantini-Celima, executive director for Wellspring Niagara at Tuesday afternoon’s sod turning event.
In order to make that facility a reality, the non-profit organization is hoping to raise $5 million — $3.5 million for the building itself with the additional funds being put aside for future growth. Wellspring Niagara has called the campaign the Help Us Build Hope campaign.
Joe Matthews, co-chair of the board of directors of Wellspring Niagara and chair of the Help Us Build Hope fundraising campaign, announced that $2.5 million has already been raised to go towards the project. Events such as the recent Tour Du Lac have contributed to this amount.
“We are confident that our Niagara community will continue to be behind us,” he told those gathered after the announcement.
And indeed it would appear the community is behind Wellspring Niagara.
Betty-Lou Souter of Wise Guys Charities announced $100,000 in funding over two years, courtesy of the Wise Guys Charity Fund, and Adrian Barnet, president of the board of directors for the Ontario Paper Thorold Foundation announced $250,000 in funding.
Mantini-Celima was emotional as she saw the community come together in one place to support Wellspring Niagara, which she got going in honour of her brother Aldo Mantini, who died of cancer in 1999 at the age of 31. Mantini’s son, Robert Mantini, who was only one when his father passed, was also at the sod turning.
“Because of you, (Aldo’s) vision will continue to impact the lives of men, women and children,” she told Wellspring Niagara’s supporters.
The new facility, set to open at the end of next year, will include more space for the hundreds of people that utilise Wellspring Niagara’s free services each year. Last year, the organization helped 640 people and the current facility on Schmon Parkway is much too small for the growing need.
The organization plans to grow its current programs and add new ones, such as a teaching kitchen, which Matthews suspects will be really popular as clients sit around with coffees and chat.
Lisa Bouchard is one of Niagara’s residents who has put the services at Wellspring Niagara to use and told the crowd they have been an integral part in her journey with cancer.
She said it was about two-and-a-half years ago that she learned she had cancer, and with two young boys to take care of and bills to pay, she wasn’t sure how she and her husband were going to manage.
“Wellspring has helped rebuild what cancer has blown apart,” she said of its services and staff.
Having access to peer support and understanding staff members, she said she has never felt judged and has been learning how to navigate her battle with cancer.
To date, Wellspring Niagara has had 68,088 program attendances.
The new facility will be built on 1.8 acres of land donated by the Town of Pelham. Mayor Dave Augustyn said the town has donated the land in perpetuity — as long as Wellspring needs it, it can have the land. It will sit among the new development on Highway 20; Augustyn said council decided to name the road its on after it so people will be able to find it.
“Welcome to Pelham. Welcome home,” Augustyn told the Wellspring Niagara team.
Regional chair Alan Caslin also offered his congratulations for the new site and called those involved leaders in the community.
Dr. Janice Giesbrecht, medical director of oncology with the Niagara Health System, is also offering her support as the honorary patron of the Help Us Build Hope campaign.
More information about Wellspring Niagara can be found at wellspring.ca/niagara.