HopeSpring in the News

Organization adjusts during pandemic to offer wigs for those with hair loss illnesses

Organization adjusts during pandemic to offer wigs for those with hair loss illnesses

Jessica Smith

Jessica SmithCTV News Kitchener Videographer

@jessicasmithctv Contact

Published Sunday, September 6, 2020 7:49PM EDT

KITCHENER -- An organization in Waterloo Region has adjusted during the pandemic so they can still provide wigs and counselling for those who have lost hair because of an illness.

Hope Spring Cancer Support says they are looking to help these people feel good from the inside out.

“It’s about giving them the confidence to be themselves again and not have to explain what they’re going through,” said Nohelia Million, volunteer and facilitator coordinator.

The organization has been a part of the community for 25 years and rely on donations to buy new or fix up old wigs.

Clients are given a mask with their free wig, along with a scarf, a knit cancer cap for sleeping, and a wig stand.

The team has shifted to a virtual platform from the hands-on process of wig-fitting ever since the pandemic began.

“There is a video on the Hope Spring website that shows people how to put it on, how to wear it, how to wash it,” said Irene Delisi, a volunteer and wig fitting specialist. “All of that information is online.”

Aastha Arora was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer when she was 20 weeks pregnant back in January.

She started losing hair after beginning chemotherapy and wanted to feel some sense of normalcy for a maternity photo shoot.

Arora connected with Hope Spring and had her wig delivered free to her door within days.

“I was so impressed by their service,” she said. “They sent me pictures and then home delivered it, and they even included all the necessary items so I don’t have to go out at all.”

Hope Spring says their mission is to continue to help people feel and look their best through whatever battle they’re fighting.

To read this article on CTV Kitchener, please visit Organization adjusts during pandemic to offer wigs for those with hair loss illnesses.

HopeSpring asking community to vote during cancer awareness month

HopeSpring asking community to vote during cancer awareness month

By 2023, 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer
By: Natasha McKenty

Thanks to COVID-19, cancer awareness has taken a back seat. The focus may have deviated, but the need for support remains higher than ever. Each year HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre assists approximately 6000 people within the community.

“We cannot forget the impact of cancer on lives and continue to fight to ensure there are awareness and tools available,” said Shawn Hlowatzki, President of the Board of Directors at HopeSpring. “We know, by 2023, statistics show that 1 in 2 will be diagnosed with cancer and that roughly 75% will beat their cancer.”

September is cancer awareness month, representing childhood cancer, ovarian, prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, gynecologic, thyroid and blood cancer. “They are all equally important, especially during the pandemic,” Hlowatzki says.

Back in March, when the region essentially shutdown, HopeSpring decided to increase its workforce rather than decrease it, as many other organizations did. Hlowatzki says they were able to adjust quickly to virtual programming, increasing participation by more than 25%.

Since the shutdown, the HopeSpring team has covered more than 4000 kilometres making personal deliveries of wigs, cloth masks and camisoles. “Often, our drop off is the only interaction a member has with the outside public,” says Hlowatzki. They arrive to find thank you notes placed in windows, he said, adding, “we often stop and talk through the screen door to provide encouragement and support.”

“Fundraising and soliciting for donations has become extremely competitive,” he said. “We are a small, local, independent organization that does not have that powerhouse to market in that way.”

My Giving Circle is offering a unique opportunity to support HopeSpring without making an out of pocket donation. Community members vote for a charity via their website. Voting is free and can be done once a week. The top voted non-profit in each category will receive $2000, second place will receive $1000.

“We want our community to know that regardless of how small the amount they are able to give - it is valued and important.” A $1 donation allows them to create an awareness poster for a doctor's office or supply a program guide to a member.

HopeSpring partners with a talk show based out of the UK called The Chemo Chat show. Providing candid conversations about what it’s like to live with cancer, the show reiterates a lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic; there are no borders when it comes to illness, including cancer.

“That is one of the positives from the pandemic,” says Hlowatzki, “it has given us the time to research and identify unique partnerships throughout Canada and the world.”

Their support services, whether it be yoga, a support group, or time with a Cancer Care Counsellor, have become lifelines during the already isolating experience of battling cancer. “Mental health issues are on the rise, and all our programs, in some way, help to ease stress, calm the mind, and reduce anxiety.”

They are currently seeking donations of cloth masks from the community, so they can continue offering them for free to those with cancer and their support systems. They do not receive funds from any level of government or the Canadian Cancer Society, as one would assume.

The HopeSpring team will likely be working remotely until early 2021. There are also a variety of remote volunteer opportunities available. “Volunteer if you can,” says Hlowatzki, “either in a remote volunteer position, committee or at the Board level.”

“Our facilitators are vital to ensuring programs continue - nutrition, yoga, meditation, peer support, art and music, caregiver support, children's programming. We love to hear community ideas and see how we can make them come to life.”

Learn more about their services, as well as how you can support residents battling cancer on their website.

To read the original article at Kitchener Today, please visit HopeSpring asking community to vote during cancer awareness month.

HopeSpring Announces: New Executive Director

Former Waterloo Region councillor Jane Mitchell hired as HopeSpring’s new executive director

News  May 01, 2019  by Johanna Weidner Waterloo Region Record                                    

Jane Mitchell

Jane Mitchell has been appointed as the new executive director of HopeSpring. -  Mathew McCarthy , Waterloo Region Record file photo                                     


WATERLOO REGION — Veteran regional politician Jane Mitchell is HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre's new leader.

Mitchell took over the role of executive director on May 1.

"I'm very excited," Mitchell said. "This is a very dynamic organization."   

A half-year after the municipal election, Mitchell thought it was an opportunity too good to resist. 

Mitchell served as a Waterloo regional councillor for 18 years, her public service inspiring her to pioneer the Waterloo Region Women's Municipal Campaign School to boost female participation at local and regional levels of government.

"We're very excited Jane came out of retirement to do this," said Shawn Hlowatzki, president of board of directors. "Jane has an excellent reputation and a kind heart."

Hlowatzki said Mitchell is well suited to lead the organization into the next stage of its transformation, taking over from Lois Peterson, who was at the helm during a tumultuous time. 

HopeSpring nearly shut down two years ago. In January 2017, the organization announced it would close at the end of March due to difficulty raising the funds needed to operate. The community rallied and soon raised enough to keep the doors open.

"HopeSpring isn't just an institution. It belongs to our community," Hlowatzki said.

And Mitchell, he said, has deep-rooted connections with the region that HopeSpring serves, along with being well-rounded.     

Mitchell was a librarian at Renison University College, served as school board trustee for 10 years, and most recently was chair of the Grand River Conservation Authority.

She first learned about HopeSpring, which has offered free programs and services to people living with cancer and their families since 1995, on a tour as a councillor, and then two friends got support there as cancer patients. 

Mitchell was impressed by the range of programs, including yoga, counselling and cooking lessons — "all kinds of things to help people through."     

The plan is to go out into the community this fall to ask what people want from HopeSpring as it moves forward. 

"That, I think, is going to be very exciting — connecting with the community."

Mitchell will report directly to the board of directors, which she says is fantastic and hands-on.   

"We all believe in HopeSpring and what HopeSpring does." 


‘Fashion Santa’ coming to Waterloo

‘Fashion Santa’ coming to Waterloo

Fashion Santa at Yorkdale mall

Model Paul Mason woke up one morning and realized he looked like Santa, and a character was born. (Source: HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre)

CTV Kitchener

Published Thursday, November 8, 2018 11:42AM EST

A man gone viral for being a fashionable-looking Santa is coming to Waterloo.

On Thursday, HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre announced a partnership between them and Paul Mason, famous for being Fashion Santa.

Paul Mason was a model in New York City for 15 years. His mother’s health began to decline, and she passed away from liver cancer living in Toronto.

“In his grief, he stopped shaving his face and woke up one day, looked in the mirror and saw a skinny Santa,” a press release explained.

In 2014, he created the character Fashion Santa, which went viral during the 2015 holiday season.

“I am approached to be a part of many charitable events—however, HopeSpring aligned very closely to my personal values and beliefs in regards to the cancer journey and cancer support,” Mason said in a press release.

Mason was scheduled to be in Wateloo on Friday and Saturday at the Inn of Waterloo.

People were encouraged to come take selfies with Fashion Santa for a minimum suggested donation of $20.

He was to be available from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Nov. 9 and from 12 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Nov. 10.

The event is in partnership with Meadow Acres Garden Centre and the Inn of Waterloo.

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