Donal McGivern, Chairperson of Cara Cancer Support Centre along with the committee getting the keys to 3&4 Williamsons Place
The Dundalk Democrat spoke with members of the Cara Cancer Support Centre committee to find out more about Cara, how the centre began and how they got to where they are today.
In March 2013 a group of people came together, some cancer patients, and some who had family members with cancer, to open a much needed cancer support centre in Dundalk. A committee was formed consisting of 11 members.
The committee then set about the different tasks of fundraising, including opening a bank account and putting a business plan together. The help and guidance from individuals at this stage, was vital to the committee, including people such as Shane Kelly who the committee say was fantastic, and gave every assistance putting the plan together.
Marion Finnegan from the Louth Leader Partnership helped them through every step of drawing up the constitution as well as assistance in other areas. Following this, they were able to apply to Revenue for Charitable Status, which was subsequently received.
It was initially agreed that the committee would fundraise to buy a property but as time went on, it was decided that to we should go down the rental route. Thomas Sharkey local Sinn Fein County Councillor secured number 7 Williamson's Place for Cara Cancer Support from Sinn Fein free of charge, for which the committee say they “are so very grateful.”
Fundraising continued and the community rolled in behind the project, with various fundraising activities being organised, with all proceeds going to Cara Cancer Support Centre. The fundraising efforts included Funny Feet, coffee morning, table quizzes, craft fairs, teenage disco, poker classic, family fun walk, Rat Pack night, pop up shops, white collar boxing and many more. The committee revealed the fundraising efforts also benefitted greatly from very kind donations from the public.
Work began on the re-furbishing 7 Williamsons Place into a tranquil haven for cancer patients and their families from North Louth, South Monaghan and the surrounding area. The committee members set about asking tradesmen they knew to volunteer their time to re-furbishing the centre.
The response they say “was absolutely fantastic.” “Painters, electricians, plumbers, tilers, carpenters, glaziers, coving and handy men all very willingly gave their time and expertise free. The business people were also fantastic donating items and giving discounts.”
Interior designer and colour specialist, May Coyle picked the colour scheme for Cara Cancer Support Centre and once this was completed, it was all systems go. The place was buzzing with activity, securing a placement through Tus for a receptionist for 1 year was a great help at this point. The committee noted that local newspapers and radio stations gave great advertising & support to the cause.
On May 23rd 2014 Cara opened its doors to all cancer patients, and their families “as a place where they can drop in for a cuppa and a chat, somewhere they can access information on services, or avail of the voluntary services available in Cara.” Some of the services provided free of charge include: meditation, Qi-energy, counselling, wig fitting, prosthesis fitting, reflexology, crochet, spiritual healing, Tai-chi, angel healing, with more coming on stream all the time.
Cara is a totally non-profit organisation, the centre and all its services are run on a totally voluntary basis.
It has gone from strength to strength since opening in May 2014 all thanks to a very dedicated team of volunteers and therapists who have “taken Cara to their hearts. Without this dedication Cara would not survive.”
Since the opening at number 7, the fundraising drive has always been ongoing and the people of Dundalk and surrounding areas, the committee say, “have just been fantastic. Through the generosity of these people Cara Cancer Support Centre has now secured its own property at 3 & 4 Williamson's Place, Dundalk. We are absolutely delighted and we want to thank most sincerely anyone who has in anyway helped to make this a reality.”
Cara Cancer Support Centre is open Monday's Wednesday's & Friday's from 10am to 4pm and 7-9pm on Wednesday Evenings. Just Call in No appointment necessary.
Cara is affiliated to the Irish Cancer Society.