At HopeSpring, 'fight for survival' replaces inescapable closure
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:15PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:32PM EST
The closure of HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre isn’t as imminent as it seemed to be a few weeks ago – but the organization’s board chair says the only thing that can keep it open is raising a lot of money in a short time.
“We're asking our community to give us the hope that we need,” Valerie Beyer said in an interview.
“It really is a fight for survival.”
HopeSpring announced last month that it would stop offering programs and services at the end of February, and cease its operations entirely at the end of March.
The organization, which does not receive direct government funding, blamed the closure on declining financial support making their operation unsustainable.
The news of HopeSpring’s looming closure came as a surprise to many of the people who have used its services.
Several fundraising campaigns sprung up in a bid to keep the lights on at HopeSpring. The community support was enough to convince the organization’s board of directors that closure might not be the only option available to them.
According to Beyer, HopeSpring could survive for another year if $400,000 was raised by Feb. 27. As of Thursday morning, the total amount raised stood around $60,000.
“(Four hundred thousand dollars) would give us that breathing space to be able to reach out to our community, to be able to launch our campaigns for the long term sustainability,” she said.
Shawn Hlowatzki was one of multiple people who started a Gofundme page to raise money for HopeSpring. He said it was because of the service a relative of his received from the agency.
“I just felt like somebody in the community needed to step up immediately to show the board of directors (and) HopeSpring that there are people who are passionate and extremely motivated to keep the doors open,” he said.
While HopeSpring has already given notice that it will be leaving its current home on Andrew Street in Kitchener, Beyer says the organization has been offered another space.
Beyer says that if the $400,000 target isn’t met by Feb. 27, all money will be returned.
If the target is met, she says, the organization will end up on the path toward a sustainable future.
That future does not seem to include Gerard Seguin, who was the organization’s executive director until earlier this week.
Several people have made accusations to CTV News that Seguin was responsible for mismanagement at HopeSpring. Seguin has declined interview requests since leaving the organization, and Beyer would only say Thursday that the decision for Seguin to leave was made mutually.
Asked multiple times if she felt there has been poor management at HopeSpring, Beyer said that the organization needs “to have the opportunity to step back and to bring in individuals that will help us with that long-term sustainability.”
With reporting by Abigail Bimman