Nurturing Neighbors, an organization dedicated to providing encouragement, support and assistance to people battling cancer and other serious illnesses, began signing up volunteers in January, and as of last week had 154 recruits on its roll and more calling every day.
Jamie Rice, one of the group’s core organizers, said she believes the rapid growth is testament to how much people in the community care about their neighbors and want to help where they can.
“We’ve have people on meal trains delivering meals to homes, people writing cards, people driving patients to appointments, people providing child care, cleaning, handyman work.
“I’m not surprised at how this community wants to support people who are suffering,” Rice said.
“We were surprised at first. But then, we live in Erwin, of course.”
“It’s for people who have cancer or any serious illness. But mostly, its cancer,” Rice said.
Patient referrals come from the local American Cancer Society office, health care providers, word of mouth and the group’s Nurturing Neighbors of Unicoi County Facebook page, where there is contact information for patients and volunteers.
A Nurturing Neighbors Cancer Support Group recently held its first meeting with helpful tips on good nutrition and a healthy diet during cancer treatment from Nurse Practitioner Vicky Osborne.
Space has been donated for a wig room at the new Erwin Life Care Center in the former Unicoi County Memorial Hospital building, where Nurturing Neighbors will soon have wigs, hats and scarves for patients who lose their hair during treatment and port pillows to bring some comfort to those with IV ports.
The group’s stated mission is to organize volunteers with a passion to help nurture cancer patients in Unicoi County.
More than a comfort, support and encouragement from people around you can make a difference in a patient’s recover. And “at the end of the day,” Rice said, “we’re making our county stronger because more than money, it’s people that are our most precious gifts.”
More information about the group can be obtained at nuturingneighborsofuc.com or 423-742-7508.