Monday, October 19, 2009

Cancer ministry holding survival benefit

The press release starts out:

"A newly married man needs someone to talk to about his fears and struggles as he cares for his wife who is battling cancer."

"A single mom with three children is torn between her desires to be by the bedside of her daughter, hospitalized with cancer, and also provide the emotional support and the basic needs for her other children. She cannot do both alone."

"A man with three children lost his job and the very next day his wife succumbed to her battle with cancer. His bills are immense and he faces the loss of his home at the very time he knows his children need the stability of their home."

They are true stories, and there are many more -- all served by Hope Cancer Ministries of Charlotte. The nonprofit provides spiritual and emotional support, as well as helping with the practical needs of cancer patients, caregivers and those who have lost someone they love to cancer.

Like most nonprofits these days, the ministry's roster of clients is growing far faster than its resources. So on Nov. 6, Hope ministry is hosting a concert and dessert benefit night featuring The Envoys, a gospel quartet.

"We are growing rapidly at a time when funds are dwindling," said Bob Little, the ministry's executive director. "We desperately need volunteers who will join our passion for serving cancer patients."

The ministry was started in 2001 by the late Frank Murray, a Charlotte Realtor. Murray was a cancer patient, and during treatments would sit and listen to the concerns of other patients. "He'd hear their fears, their trials and concerns," Little said. "He thought, 'here I sit with hope, since I have the resources.' He told his friends, 'we need to reach out to these folks.'"

Murray wrote up his blueprint for the ministry and gave it to friends at his church to implement. He didn't live to see his ministry come to life. He knew it was under way -- and he was grateful.

The ministry pairs clients with a primary partner, a prayer partner and card partner, Little said. It has assembled a team of volunteers who help with transportation, meals, house cleaning, minor house repairs and financial assistance. It also maintains a benevolence fund to help clients financially wrecked by hospital and medical costs and a food pantry to feed those who have given up eating to pay for other obligations.

HCM has four part-time care professionals who have trained volunteers and work to meet needs of clients.

As for the young groom, the ministry provides him with counseling and support groups.

It helps the single mother by sending volunteers to sit with her sick child and her other children -- while she gets a break.

And the recent widower? The ministry is helping pay his medical bills and house payments. Food is provided and when he's ready he'll join a support group.

The ministry, a nonprofit, relies on donations from individuals and churches. Little said the staff has written grants, but so far unsuccessfully. "We meet our obligations, but have little left over after that," Little said. "With the recession, our reserves have dried up."

Their work is noble and necessary. They need your help.

Want to go? The Nov. 6 concert/dessert benefit will be at Calvary Church of the Nazarene, 4000 N. Sharon Amity Rd. It starts at 7 p.m. If can't go, send a check to Hope Cancer Ministry, 4824 Sharon View Rd., Charlotte NC 28226, or go on the Web site here. If you'd like to volunteer, call 704-364-1440.