The Art of Supporting the Cancer Community Center

One of my ideas of a good time is going to an art exhibit. So, I was delighted to be invited to the Cancer Community Center’s Art Preview Party at the Portland Regency Hotel last week. Even if it isn’t your favorite thing to do, I hope you’ll bear with me and at least take into consideration that the pieces I’m sharing are being auctioned off to help support the Cancer Community Center. I’m willing to bet most of us have been affected by cancer in some fashion, and know how important support and resources can be for patients and families.

The Cancer Community Center, in South Portland, was founded in the 1990s by Jane Staley, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I had the privilege of interviewing Jane when the center first opened. What she hoped to achieve was a place that people dealing with cancer could go to for support and information. Little did she know that it would evolve into a critical lifeline for thousands of people. Today, the center offers a wide array of support groups; wellness, fitness and creative programs; community outreach opportunities; the Maine Buddy Program, and a library filled with resources.

Everything the center offers is free, which is why it relies on donations from individuals, private foundations and corporations. It’s also why it sponsors fundraisers throughout the year, including the 10th Annual Cancer Community Center Online Auction. Among the more than 500 items being auctioned off this year are the works of art I’m sprinkling throughout this post. The goal is to raise $75,000 between now and Thursday March 28, 2013 at 5:30 pm.

Corrine Bongiovanni, herself a Maine artist, organized the Art Preview Party and invited artists from around the country to participate in the auction. More than 50 artists donated pieces. They hail from Maine, of course, but also from New Hampshire, Minnesota, Washington, Colorado, Arkansas, and Arizona. “Everyone is touched by cancer,” says Corrine, “so they want to help support the Cancer Community Center, but we are also able to give them wonderful exposure all through the northeast because of our online auction and all that we do to put it out there.”

An artist from Minnesota told Corrine that visitors to his web site tripled as a result of being part of last year’s auction. That kind of response entices other artists to participate, which benefits everyone.

This year’s featured artist is Todd Bonita from New Hampshire.

Like the other participating artists, Michael Ranucci from Auburn says when Corrine told him about the auction he thought it was a great opportunity to help out and also get some artwork out there. He paints in the style of the Old Masters. “I like to depict light and shadow,” he explains, “to really show the beauty of light and how it washes over objects.”

I think Mike’s explanation is an apt analogy for what the Cancer Community Center is able to do for people dealing with cancer. The center is like a beautiful light that washes over people when they are experiencing some of the darkest moments of their lives.

Even if you don’t like art, check out the online auction — you are bound to find something you like. All proceeds will benefit the Cancer Community Center.

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.