HopeSpring cancer centre’s new leader bringing new opportunities, drive to job
HopeSpring cancer centre’s new leader bringing new opportunities, drive to job Lois Peterson, newly minted executive director of HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, is working on a new strategy, new location and funding for the centre.
Sep 14, 2018 by Johanna Weidner Waterloo Region Record
Lois Peterson, new executive director of HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, in a massage treatment room at the organization’s space in the Inn of Waterloo. - Peter Lee , Waterloo Region Record
WATERLOO — Opportunities are everywhere, and Lois Peterson is determined to find them.
As HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre's new executive director, Peterson views creating connections as vital to the organization's long-term sustainability.
"It's always looking for opportunities," she said. "One conversation leads to another conversation."
HopeSpring is charting a new course after nearly shutting down.
In January 2017, the organization announced it would be closing at the end of March due to difficulty raising the funds needed to operate. The community rallied and soon raised $300,000 to keep the doors open.
"It's been good because the organization realized and validated that what they were doing was needed," Peterson said. "We also needed to realize we needed to regroup."
Peterson took the role in June. It had been filled by an interim director since the previous leader left in February 2017. At the same time, the centre also got a board advisory committee to act as mentors to the new board.
"I think I've got the right people around me," Peterson said. "But then you've got to make the connections and you've got to persevere."
HopeSpring provides free support to cancer patients, their families and caregivers after being started in 1995 by two local residents.
Peterson was friends with one of the founders, Dan Blasutti, and is herself a cancer survivor after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma when she was in her early 20s, followed by two recurrences. She has also been involved with numerous local organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Hospice of Waterloo Region and K-W Oktoberfest.
She's drawing on the courage that helped her get through cancer treatment.
"I'm using that same philosophy in what I'm doing now," Peterson said. "It's courage to look outside the box."
HopeSpring is a leaner organization now, occupying a small low-cost space in the Inn of Waterloo that it moved into a year ago.
Peterson would like to find HopeSpring its own place that's more central and easier to access. That's part of her plan, along with rekindling partnerships and forming new ones.
"A lot of people are coming on board," Peterson said.
A strategic plan is being developed by the board, and HopeSpring is focused on applying for grants to cover the cost of programs and also expand them to meet the needs. Those have changed since HopeSpring opened more than two decades ago, when there wasn't a cancer centre in the region.
"They were meeting a need at that time. The need at this time is different," Peterson said.
HopeSpring is looking for support — big or small — from the community and also input.
"It belongs to the community and it needs to be supported by the community," Peterson said.
HopeSpring is hosting a fundraiser on Sept. 20 called Jazz for Hope — an evening of live music by the New Vibes Jazz Quartet and Derek Hines in the Victoria Park pavilion. Tickets are $50.
Find out more or at hopespring.ca.