In 2000, Ann Fogolin entered Wellspring for the first time. What she could not have known at the time, was that this first step was the beginning of what would become a long and rewarding relationship with Wellspring.
“I lost my dad to cancer when I was 14. Back then, cancer wasn’t something people really talked about, and the chances of survival were often not positive. There was no support for families, and as a child, the whole experience was quite difficult,” says Ann. Fast forward years later, to when Ann is married with children and her husband has received his own diagnosis. “My children were around the same age that I was when I lost my dad, and I wanted to get them all the support they needed as their dad went through his treatment. That’s where Wellspring came into our lives. We participated in the parent-child program together at Wellspring Westerkirk House, and it was extremely powerful.”
As Ann’s children grew older and she had more free time, she called her local Wellspring centre to inquire about getting involved. Today, Ann is a committed and passionate peer support volunteer and is celebrating 9 years with Wellspring Chinguacousy in this role. Her full circle moment came a few years ago, when she was given the opportunity to assist with the Parent and Child’s Program at Wellspring Chinguacousy. The leader she was supporting was the same person who had helped her family all those years earlier at Wellspring Westerkirk House.
“By volunteering with Wellspring, I get to meet the most incredible people,” says Ann. “I don’t think we realize how incredibly strong and courageous we are until we are truly tested. The individuals I meet ground me – the hope, strength, and determination that they demonstrate is a constant reminder of what we are capable of. As volunteers, we get to witness the emotional healing of the people who come to our centre. It is an absolute privilege. ”
Like many Wellspring volunteers, Ann’s support extends into so many parts of the organization – from helping with outreach, to lending event support, to making annual donations. “I believe strongly in the programs offered at Wellspring, and I know funding for them is always a challenge. What I love is knowing that my donations stay at Wellspring Chinguacousy, and they are used to make a huge difference for so many people in our community.”
One of Ann’s favourite things about Wellspring is that the programs are not just for patients. “I came to Wellspring as a caregiver, and I think it is important that we provide support for those that care for loved ones. Often, the caregiver doesn’t get the time and attention they need, but it is critical. When caregivers don’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of their loved one.”