Giving came naturally to Donna Chamberlain.
"That was her whole life. She was a very selfless, caring woman," says her husband, Rick. "She always wanted to give. She was always looking out for others."
Growing up, her daughter, Rikki Goba, remembers her mom organizing efforts to support charities in the community. “All of our Christmas parties benefitted someone or something,” says Rikki.
And even after being diagnosed with cancer, Donna continued to focus on others. She started a Facebook group called Sisters Support Centre to collect essential items that would be part of care packages for patients at the Walker Family Cancer Centre.
Sadly, Donna passed away in October, but her inspiring community effort will continue in her memory.
On Friday, Rick, Rikki, Donna’s sisters Karen and Tammy and her friend Theresa brought 68 care packages and $775 in gift cards to support cancer patients.
“It was amazing that Donna did this,” says Rick.
Because of Donna's work and the support of the community, more than 500 care packages have been donated for Niagara cancer patients.
Rikki will lead the community effort moving forward to honour her mom’s memory. "It means my mom’s work will carry on," says Rikki. "I wanted to make sure it wasn’t forgotten."
Rikki’s brother, Corey, who lives in Ottawa, is also part of the effort.
Partnering with Wellspring
Starting in January, Rikki says the Sisters Support Centre will partner with Wellspring Niagara, which offers a variety of supportive care programs for cancer patients, their families and caregivers.
"Wellspring is where donations will be directed to," says Rikki. "We’re working in a partnership with them to put the bags together. There will be an opportunity for people to go and pick out the bag they want."
When Donna’s family visited the cancer centre, they also met with some of the nurses who provided her care.
"I just gave them a hug and told them to go help somebody,” says Rick. “They are amazing people."
"They’re very compassionate,” says Rikki, who is a nurse with Niagara Region Public Health. "They’re perfect for their jobs. My mom talked very highly of the nurses. It was great to see a few of the faces that provided care for her."
'Wonderful tribute to her legacy'
Seeing the family meant a lot to the nurses.
"It was wonderful. It makes your heart feel so warm," says Registered Nurse Tammy Vittie. "Even in their time of sorrow, they’re thinking about us and they’re thinking about the patients."
Tammy was inspired by Donna. "She was an incredible woman. For her to think about others … it’s amazing."
Registered Nurse Marlene Lenz says it’s wonderful to see the community effort continue in Donna’s memory. "It’s a wonderful tribute to her legacy."
"It was so nice to see the family," she adds. "Them coming here was wonderful for us to be able to express our gratitude back to them for what they’ve done for our patients."