Can Assist Young-Boorowa branch has been given a timely boost thanks to crucial funding received from greenslips.com.au, benefiting cancer patients across the region who rely on their cars to travel to and from treatment.
Branch President, Gail Hanigan said Can Assist Young Boorowa provides practical and financial support to people through CTP greenslips, travel, food and fuel vouchers, medications payments - and more.
"Generally, we categorise them as 'travel, treatment and accommodation' - get them there, get them treated, get them somewhere to stay, and get them home," she said.
Since the Young-Boorowa branch was established in 1988, it has provided more than $1 million worth of support to cancer patients in the region.
And what sets it apart from other charities is that all money raised locally stays local.
The branches are funded entirely by local donations and fundraising events, and corporate support such as greenslips.com.au
"All of our money is raised in the local community - and we are eternally grateful for the support. Over the past two years, in particular, we would not have been able to assist our clients without it," Gail said.
"The funds from greenslips.com.au will contribute enormously, particularly for those who don't use community transport.
"Not all patients live in town, some live 50kms out of town, so it's essential to have your own vehicle and be able to go direct to treatment. If people can go in their own vehicle, they have freedom and flexibility.
"To be able to drive there and back is a big thing, you cannot put a price on that. These funds will have a practical and emotional impact, and it will free up our funds for other things."
It's a view echoed by Branch Vice President Chris Wright.
"Keeping your car on the road is essential and you can't have a car without a green slip," she said.
"Most patients have to travel to treatment, whether in Wagga Wagga, Orange, Canberra or Sydney, and we help them with their travel costs and accommodation. This money will take a weight off people's shoulders."
On average, the Young-Boorowa branch supports between 40 and 50 people each year, of all ages and at different stages of their cancer journey.
And while the numbers have reduced during COVID, the amount per person has increased.
"A cancer journey is not cheap," Ms Wright said.
And the locals who have had the support from Can Assist know just how crucial the support is.
"The local branch helped my family through an extremely tough time last year that we will be forever grateful for," says a local family member supported by Can Assist.
"They went above and beyond to ensure my stepfather was taken care of through chemo and a massive surgery. Without their assistance, it would have been a much harder time for us."
"I know several people with breast cancer who have paid $6,000 for the best hope of a cure," Ms Hanigan said.
"People living in the city have all sorts of options for public health, but people in the country don't. There are no choices of where to go, it's very limited.
"The accumulation of every little thing and the costs associated with cancer can be the straw that breaks the camel's back."
Ms Hanigan said Can Assist Young-Boorowa is very keen to create more awareness of the support that the branch can offer.
"No-one likes to ask for help, but they need a hand up, not a handout. It's a critical time in life and it's a speed hump that we help people over. We live in a wonderful community who are helping their fellow community members," she said.
And the branch, which is run entirely by local volunteers, is keen for more volunteers to join the branch.
"These communities would fall apart without all the volunteers," Ms Hanigan said.
"We are looking for more volunteers as well as donations."
For information about donating or volunteering with Can Assist Young-Boorowa, call 6382 5441.
For further information about how to support Can Assist, visit www.canassist.org.au
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