“We take care of our own.” That has been the philosophy of The Living Well since it was created after the Red Cross shut down its Penn Yan office three years ago.

“Yates County takes care of its own.” That was the philosophy of the organizers of the Hope Walk to raise funds for local cancer patients after the American Cancer Society decided Yates County wasn’t large enough to host its own Relay for Life. Hope Walk raised $34,000 in its very first year, and every cent of that money is going to help Yates County’s own cancer patients cope with the travel and living difficulties the diagnosis can bring.

With that money, The Living Well is embarking on its newest mission. New Hope Cancer Care will offer financial help and practical services from volunteers for local people diagnosed with cancer. Their mission statement reads, “We are here to care for and encourage those whose lives have been touched by cancer – to give inspiration, hope, and support.”

Headed by the “Cancer Care Corps” of Sue DeGeorge, Karen Heitmann, and Linda Potts, New Hope’s priorities are to help with transportation, household help, financial needs, personal care, and to offer a resource manual for practical information, and a support group to keep the spirit whole. An army of volunteers, churches, and service organizations will provide the needed help, arranged through Tender Loving Care (TLC) Coordinators Beulah Decker and Linda Potts. They will manage the intake process, connecting with the people and team leaders, and coordinating with the right volunteers.

Despite the fact the volunteers have only just begun the organizational phase, they have already served seven people in need simply by word of mouth.

As part of The Living Well, New Hope is a faith-based mission of the United Methodist Church, but recognizes no boundaries of faith, race, gender, age, or persuasion for the people they will serve. They must merely be a resident of Yates County, where it is estimated there are approximately 400 people currently living with cancer. That number may be startling, but it does point to the strain cancer puts on so many families, and the desperate need for volunteers to help.

New Hope is looking for caring citizens to give of themselves in a variety of capacities, from administration to direct care of the people. Even those who can just be a companion on the trip to and from a cancer treatment center can take a great weight off the mind of a worried and lonely cancer patient undergoing treatment. There will be an orientation meeting for new volunteers at 5:30 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at The Living Well.

If you would like to volunteer, make a donation, or know of a Yates County resident undergoing cancer treatment who could benefit from New Hope, please contact them through The Living Well, 121 East Elm St., Penn Yan, NY, 14527; call 315-536-0838; email umcthelivingwell@gmail.com; website www.umcthelivingwell.org.

(For donations by check, please write “New Hope” on the memo line.)