Survivors by the Sea, founded in 2006, is still going strong, even in times of uncertainty and economic strife. Recently the organization broadened their mission, adding community-based giving to reciprocate the Town of Winthrop’s generosity over the years.
While many fundraisers have been interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Survivors by the Sea volunteers are doing what they can to continue making a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families and community members as a whole.
Recently, the non-profit organization has been very active with the survivor bag program which was designed with the cancer patient in mind.
“The survivor bag was created when we all sat around a table and made a list of essential items needed when going back and forth to treatment,” said Survivors by the Sea member, Linda Calla.
The bags, which are given to new patients just starting to undergo treatment, contain the following items: a blanket, a water bottle, Chapstick, lemon drops and ginger, cream for radiation, a small cuddle pillow, a neck warmer, a sleep cap, and a personalized “Dammit Doll” that was made and sealed with good survivor energy.
In addition, the dedicated group has been actively helping with cleaning and laundry services, assisting with personal needs such as meals, transportation, and providing furniture.
Every year the group hosts two celebrations to honor those they’ve lost and to take care of the patients who are currently undergoing treatments. A bench ceremony is hosted every September at Deer Island, where families and Survivors by the Sea volunteers gather to remember those who’ve passed.
During the holiday season the organization hosts a “Taking Care of Us” evening, where Mai Nuyen closes Star Nails Salon donating the space so cancer patients can enjoy a night of pampering.
Going beyond cancer support, Survivors by the Sea has expanded into community support, giving back to the community that has supported them over the past 14 years.
The group has proved that their mission outweighs the limited options they have to help in today’s COVID world, and they have coordinated two rounds of senior wellness calls for residents who are over 80-years old. Partnering with Matt Rodes from the Council on Aging, the Medical Reserve Corps and volunteers from Natalie Bayersdorfer’s Cal-zone crew, the group reached almost 1000 seniors and made some new friends along the way. In addition, they worked at Town Hall stuffing mail-in ballots for the election season.
During last holiday season, the group ran Cookies for Comfort, donating hundreds of cookies to shut ins, elder homes, patients, shelters and the fire and police dept.
“We couldn’t have done it without volunteers from Amy Gallagher’s WMS Student Council, and volunteers from the Cal-zone and MRC,” said Calla. “The Student Council Volunteers and WPD were also on delivery duty. It will be added to our annual events once it is safe again.”