“Wellspring is my home away from home,” says Karen Nichols, a Wellspring member and long-time volunteer. When Karen was first diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September 2006 a friend encouraged her to visit Wellspring Birmingham Gilgan House (Halton-Peel at the time). “The first time I went there, I found myself nervously sitting in my car, afraid to go in says Karen. But when I walked into the centre, the front desk volunteer immediately made me feel welcome and safe. She had a genuine smile on her face and provided me with the reassurance that I needed.”

When Karen first learned that a Wellspring centre was opening in Brampton, her home city, she decided to attend the public meeting. From that moment on, Karen was immersed in both fundraising and volunteering for Wellspring Chinguacousy.

As one of the first volunteers at the Chinguacousy centre, Karen remembers sitting at a fold- up table on opening day, Thursday, February 14, 2008, waiting to provide the same warm welcome that she received when she first entered a Wellspring centre. From that day on and still living with cancer, Karen has volunteered every Thursday morning since.

Karen is a jack-of-all-trades at Wellspring Chinguacousy, volunteering in a variety of capacities including front desk, peer support, community outreach and co-facilitating the Lymphoma Support Group. As the original in-clinic volunteer, Karen considers this volunteer initiative, “her baby.” Karen goes into the chemotherapy clinic at Brampton Civic Hospital and speaks with people having chemotherapy who may be experiencing an array of emotions, and she invites them to visit Wellspring Chinguacousy. Karen has been able to pass on her expertise by training other volunteers through buddy shifts.

“Wellspring is like a family member to me,” says Karen. “And family is the most important thing of all. Wellspring has been an integral part of my cancer journey, and helped me understand who I am”.

“I volunteer because I love it and I love interacting with people. To hear people and listen to what they are feeling and then be able to reach them on a personal level is such a gift.” Karen’s passion for Wellspring shines through everything she does and says, as does, her desire to reach out to others who could benefit from Wellspring’s programs and services.