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Contest winnings would boost cancer programming

Hearth Place helps provide support for cancer patients and their families.

A downtown cancer centre is one of two Oshawa businesses to make it to the finals for the Aviva Community Fund contest.

Aviva, a Canadian insurance company, will distribute up to a million dollars in prize money to the best community improvement ideas. The $25,000 Hearth Place has proposed will go to expanding their programming to include children’s cancer care.

Executive director Andrea Shaw said the centre has been approaching by plenty of families looking for help. “We felt the time was right to expand, but in order for us to take on such additional programming we need more funding and staffing,” she said. And because the centre is not government funded and survives on generous private donations, this contest is a way to get an influx of funds quickly.

Winning this competition would mean increasing the various types of programs offered at Hearth Place, including play and music therapy, housekeeping for families with cancer and tutoring for students who are missing and struggle at school because of cancer treatment.

“Cancer never just affects the person is diagnosed, it really affects the whole family and the extended network of colleagues and friends,” said Shaw about why she believes Hearth Place deserves to win. “To be able to come to a centre like ours, where you can share your experiences with people who have that bone deep understanding of what it’s like to have a life threatening illness, that’s a unique and amazing thing.”

Hearth Place has been open just west of Centre Street on Colborne Street in Oshawa for 14 years. They renovated in 2005, upgrading their facility and adding nearly 5000 more square feet of space to meet community needs.

Voting is now in the hands of the Aviva panel, which includes celebrity judges ETALK host Tanya Kim and Canada AM producer Tina Daenzer, but Shaw said it was many others who got them this far in the competition.

“We’re so grateful for the community for voting. They’ve been so devoted. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

Winners will be announced Jan. 25. Another Oshawa business, Sunrise Youth Group has also been named as one of the top 30 finalists. Visit avivacommunityfund.org for more information.

A capture of the Aviva Insurance community fund contest website.

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