Participants in the annual Raymond James Father’s Day Walk and Run for Prostate Cancer pose for a photo in 2020. This year’s fundraiser is being held virtually given continued public health restrictions on gatherings. (Courtesy of Island Prostate Centre)

Participants in the annual Raymond James Father’s Day Walk and Run for Prostate Cancer pose for a photo in 2020. This year’s fundraiser is being held virtually given continued public health restrictions on gatherings. (Courtesy of Island Prostate Centre)

Island Prostate Centre working hard to continue cancer support services

COVID-19’s effect on business has trickle-down effect on non-profit, executive director says

The Island Prostate Centre has raised $14,000 within a month of announcing a fundraising goal of $350,000.

“This past year has been the toughest our organization has faced in two decades. And the reality is, this is a mission-critical moment for us,” the support centre announced in their recent newsletter.

“We really rely on our community to support the work that we do. It could be $10, it can be $100 – the old cliche of every dollar counts, for us, really and truly is the case,” said centre executive director Leanne Kopp.

The centre is B.C.’s only non-profit providing free services for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. These include emotional support sessions, therapeutic exercises and the “nurse navigator” program, which connects patients with the centre’s registered nurse to learn about treatment options and answer “every last question.”

RELATED STORY: B.C. man’s book will be distributed to new prostate cancer patients throughout the province

“When you’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis … having a place where you can connect with a medical professional (or) where you can connect with other men who are going through a similar situation is so vitally important,” Kopp said.

The organization is one more in the community whose funds have nearly dissolved due to the pandemic. The majority of the its year-to-year funds come from live events made impossible given public health guidelines, or donations from businesses whose own revenues have been limited throughout the pandemic, Kopp added.

“It’s a trickle-down effect when everybody’s suffering … People who are outside of the business world don’t understand that our local businesses provide so much support for charities.”

Although the organization is a non-profit, Kopp said they’ve received regular grant funding from the Victoria Foundation and emergency funding from Ottawa.

“With (government) recovery funding, I think there needs to be some flexibility and outside-the-box thinking about how we can support our sector moving forward,” she said. “This past year has really been about sustaining the work that we do,” despite the requirement for charities to develop new programs to retain their status.

Because of the transition to remote work, the centre’s 2.5 regular staff have expanded their services to men across Vancouver Island, with plans to continue that offering following the pandemic.

“COVID has not stopped men from being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Kopp said. “The virtual world of program delivery has opened us up to so many more men … we just want to ensure that those (programs) are sustainable moving forward.”

From donations and through their annual (this year virtual) Raymond James Father’s Day Walk/Run, Kopp is hopeful the fundraising goals will be met by year’s end.

RELATED STORY: Why does B.C. have 12,273 charities?

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