Susan Martin has a pretty big challenge ahead of her. Martin, the chairperson for the Elmira and Woolwich daffodil campaign for the Canadian Cancer Society, has been given the task of rounding up volunteers to help sell daffodils on the busiest weekend of the year locally – the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.
“It’s really too bad that our events are the same weekend,” said Martin. “The daffodil team in New Hamburg, a town of similar size to Elmira, sold more than three times what we did last year. It just seems like everyone is already volunteering somewhere here that weekend.”
This will be the sixth year that Martin has chaired the campaign; she got started when a friend from the Elmira Curling Club and staff member at the cancer society asked her if she wouldn’t mind helping out for one evening and delivering some daffodils.
“And then I was the chairperson!” Martin said with a laugh. “I got involved just a little bit and it grew from there.”
But Martin was no stranger to the society when she became chairperson: she had been involved with their fundraisers and services on both a professional and personal level. Both Martin’s father and grandfather died of cancer; the 15th anniversary of her father’s passing from pancreatic cancer was just last week.
“It seems as though there is no avoiding it – it is in my family,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way.”
Several years ago, Martin, a retired teacher from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, had been chairperson for the Great Ride ’n’ Stride fundraising event.
Because of her personal experience, Martin is very familiar with the costs associated with treating the disease. The support systems provided today courtesy of fundraising campaigns are much more thorough than when her father was in treatment, she explained.
“I think when my dad had cancer, we weren’t even aware that those kinds of services were available through the cancer society, if they were at all. It’s good to make sure people know that there are support services available for victims and their families.”
Since beginning her stint as a volunteer, she clearly sees the benefits that can be provided to patients.
“The society provides a whole range of services to people – things you don’t even really realize that you need until you need them,” she explained. “They provide funding for research, as well as things like drivers to take you to appointments. I have had friends with cancer, and I was the person driving them to their treatments. But there are a lot of people who don’t have anyone who can take them – it can get expensive if you don’t have support.”
So expensive that some are not able to access the many treatments and services available, a fact that fuels her enthusiasm to volunteer when she can. The cost of a clinical trial for one patient is equal to the profits from 10 boxes, or 500 bunches of daffodils sold.
Daffodils, said Martin, are the sign of hope that many cancer survivors can relate to.
“In the springtime, the flowers are out and everyone is so looking forward to so many things. It’s a new beginning, and the hope that we can conquer whatever it is we are facing.”
But before she can sit back and enjoy her own bouquet – and the feeling she gets from knowing that she, in a small way, has helped someone gain access to proper care – she needs a few more people to come out and help with the sale, Martin noted.
In addition to the annual sale to businesses which occurs every year in Elmira, volunteers are needed between Mar. 25 and 28 to work a two- or three-hour shift at one of the cancer society booths.
“I have exhausted my friends and acquaintances,” she laughed. “And I think volunteering that weekend is a lot of fun. I don’t think of it as a job. I get a chance to be creative and I meet all sorts of different people.”
People interested in volunteering their time, or purchasing flowers can contact Martin directly at 519-669-1351 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Daffodils are sold for $7 per bunch or alternatively, you can purchase two bunches for $12.