Charitable Choices: Christina Smith, CEO of Wellspring

Wellspring is a Canadian non-profit organization that supports cancer care programs and services. We spoke with Christina Smith, CEO, to find out more about them.

Wellspring

 

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

Wellspring is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that provides a wide range of supportive care programs and services, at no charge, and without a referral, to anyone, with any cancer, at any stage in their journey. Wellspring centres are located across Canada and the organization just launched a new national online centre accessible to all members.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Wellspring programs help people overcome the many and often overwhelming emotional, physical, practical, and financial challenges they face following a cancer diagnosis. All of Wellspring’s programs are led by professionals all of whom have a background in cancer patient
support. The programs have been researched, developed, tested, and proven to help patients, their caregivers and family members both manage and elevate their quality of life and strengthen their minds and bodies. The hallmark of Wellspring is its focus on the individual, not the
illness, and that all who reach out to Wellspring are cared for in a safe community of compassion, expertise, respect, and comfort.

When did you start/join it?

I joined Wellspring in February 2013.

What made you want to get involved?

The main reason I wanted to get involved, was due to my own experience with cancer and my personal interest in this type of work as I am a cancer survivor and have had several leadership roles through my 25-year career in the charitable sector. I have known for a long time that
Wellspring is considered the gold standard in Canada for community-based cancer support and was privileged to have the opportunity to take the reins of this incredible organization.

What was the situation like when you started?

Wellspring was founded in 1992, and over the years, it has grown and evolved organically from its humble beginnings with just one centre in downtown Toronto. Over the past 30 years with the incidence of cancer rising in Canada and the fact that more people are now surviving, we are seeing a growing need for our services. I was pleased to join the organization as I saw it as an ideal time to find new ways of strategically growing our reach and mission.

How has it changed since?

We now have 10 physical Wellspring centres located across Canada, and we also have a robust virtual program centre called Well on the Web, which allows Canadians affected by cancer to access our unique programs and services no matter where they are located. We are
now providing care for people from coast to coast as well as internationally. We have also developed many partnerships with national cancer organizations and numerous local and provincial organizations.

What more needs to be done?

We would like to let every Canadian living with cancer know, that Wellspring is here to help them, their caregivers, and their loved ones. They do not need to navigate these challenges alone. We are here to offer compassionate and dependable support and most important, programs and services that address the specific needs of those affected by cancer.

How can our readers help?

When friends and family are diagnosed with cancer, let them know about Wellspring. The hospitals and cancer centres do an excellent job at treating the disease, but Wellspring helps with everything in life that changes because of the disease. Wellspring receives no government
or hospital funding and relies solely on donations from individuals, corporations, and proceeds from special events, so donations are always needed and certainly welcomed.

Do you have any events coming up?

Light Up Wellspring is an annual holiday celebration that serves to brighten the lives of individuals living with cancer. This year, people can purchase ornaments hung on Trees of Hope outside our Toronto and Oakville centres. Then, early in December, the communities are invited to attend the tree and house-lighting ceremonies. At this time, because of the pandemic, all other events have been postponed.

Where can we follow you?

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

In place of gift-giving this year, why not make a tribute donation to the charity of your choice in honour of a loved one. The pandemic has resulted in financial challenges for all Canadian charities, and your gifts of support would be greatly appreciated this holiday season.