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Monsters and Physicians Ambulance join together for Season of Giving

The Gathering Place

As the pandemic unfolded, how did the organization come together to decide on what specific topics would be covered to help families coping with both cancer and COVID? How quickly do you feel the organization was able to adapt? 

The Gathering Place’s management team made the tough decision to close our doors for onsite programming March 2020 following the guidance of Governor Mike DeWine to keep participants, staff and volunteers safe from the spread of the coronavirus. It was particularly important for us to act fast as the impact of the virus for those coping with cancer can be extremely dangerous. We are proud of our entire team for working together to move programs online including exercise, meditation, cooking, support groups, lectures and workshops for individuals and families coping with cancer. Topics for our programs are driven by the needs of our participants. Throughout the pandemic our clinical team has made personal phone calls to participants to listen and learn how we can best support them through these very challenging times. We hosted a Town Hall series where we had speakers address concerns around the virus and cancer patients, financial impact and more.  

In addition to creating COVID specific support groups, how else has the organization had to adapt to provide the same support and resources during the pandemic (i.e. classes and crafting offered in person)? 

Our clinical team continues to listen to the needs of our participants while leveraging the expertise of our local healthcare partners and community partners to deliver programming that meets the needs of individuals and families on the cancer journey. At this time we do not offer a COVID specific support group at The Gathering Place, however we do offer many of our same onsite programs (ie: cooking, exercise, lectures, art, meditation) via Zoom and GoToMeeting requiring minimal tools to participate from home. Our children and family clinical team have adapted from utilizing our onsite tools and resources to packaging items up and safely delivering supplies to families to utilize during our online groups for families coping with the impact of families coping with an adult loved one with cancer or families coping with the death of an adult loved one from cancer. We recognize the digital divide in our city that disproportionately affects marginalized communities. That said, our team has made it a priority to educate ourselves and collaborate with community partners to learn the best way to meet the needs of folks coping with cancer while also dealing with health disparities.  

How have you had to change accepting help with volunteer work and fundraising efforts as restrictions due to COVID continue to evolve? 

The Gathering Place is truly grateful for the continued support from volunteers and donors throughout these challenging times. Our volunteers play a major role in helping us get the word out about our services at hospitals, health fairs and community events. Volunteers are often the first face or voice participants connect with upon first engagement with The Gathering Place. Since the pandemic, our volunteers have continued to support us from the safety of their home by coordinating lunch and learns through their workplace, social groups and more. External fundraisers continue to serve as a vital role in helping us raise dollars to keep our programs free of charge for folks coping with cancer in Northeast Ohio. We are honored to be selected as one of the beneficiaries of the Cleveland Monster’s Awareness Campaign! The dedication and passion of your team continues to amaze us. Thank you! We are also grateful for the generosity of community members who have gathered friends, family and colleagues to host creative fundraisers to support The Gathering Place. Every dollar raised makes a difference in the individuals and families we support. 

With the additional stress on these families of having to be overly cautious due to COVID on top of grief/feelings during the holiday season, how can the local community provide help to the organization? Do you guys have any plans or workshops upcoming you’d like to share? 

Many businesses, organizations and events were shut down due to the pandemic. We remind people that cancer does not stop. That said, our work to provide programs and services to folks impacted by cancer free of charge does not stop. In fact, we are challenged now more than ever to meet our participants where they are. The pandemic has created an additional layer of fear for people on the cancer journey along with increased stress from the economic toll and feelings of isolation. We know people are suffering from the impact of cancer and COVID, we need strong organizations like the Cleveland Monsters to help us spread the word about our FREE services.  To learn more about our programs and services please visit us online at here or call 216.595.9546.