2017-10-07 / Viewpoints

Volunteers That Care – and how!

BY BILL PEKARSKI


Volunteers That Care Volunteers That Care Having family members as well as friends go through cancer treatments has been heart-wrenching. Sometimes they feel like they are all alone in the world, which can lead to giving up hope. A local organization, Volunteers That Care, is there to help.

Linda Bretz (president) and Kathy Kinard (VP) have both been personally affected by cancer. Linda is volunteer coordinator for the American Cancer Society, while Kathy is a Reach to Recovery resource person and a retired licensed practical nurse.

What began back in 2012 as a couple of people talking about ways they could help cancer patients evolved to a dedicated, caring group of 18 who raise funds to help cancer victims and their families, and to spread awareness.

Kathy spoke to me about what a hassle it used to be for patients to get mileage reimbursements for cancer treatments. They only received pennies per mile. The number of hurdles that had to be crossed and red tape that had to be cut was daunting. After a while, reimbursements were completely eliminated.

VTC came up with a solution: provide a card to pay for the gas needed to get cancer patients back and forth to treatments.

“We don’t have to answer to any government group or agency. If someone in Potter County has cancer, he or she can get a card,” explained Kathy. “There are no hurdles to jump over, no red tape to cut through. We can just give them a card and let them know we are there to help.”

Both women have worked with the American Cancer Society, but VTC is independent. The organization also provides wigs, and head coverings. As a certified non-profit entity, VTC is eligible for tax-deductible donations. It’s also relies on fundraisers to meet its expenses.

“One hundred percent of the donations made to Volunteers That Care are used for patient assistance, and the group is comprised completely of volunteers,” Linda was proud to point out.

VTC is all about giving to others. The organization will even provide gas cards to people outside of Potter County, as long as they are receiving treatment in the county. This helps the many people from Emporium, Port Allegany and other area communities who come to the Patterson Cancer Care Center for treatment. And, of course, Potter County residents who have to get treatments outside the county are eligible for cards to cover their fuel expenses.

Spaghetti dinners, quilt raffles, bingo games and other fundraisers keep the volunteers busy. “One of our biggest obstacles is letting people know what our group is, and how we can help,” said Kathy. “We try to leave information at various locations and are always available to talk with cancer patients and their families.”

Other board members of Volunteers that Care are Mikell Haskins, treasurer, and A. J. Stiles, secretary. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at Central Grange in Sweden Valley at 5:30 pm. Anyone interested in learning more is welcome to attend or contact any board member.

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