Thursday, September 27, 2018

What did Mark Hierlihy have to say at CCS Oxford office meeting?

Ontario executive director for Canadian Cancer Society was in Woodstock earlier this month

Changes for Relay For Life organizing committee will make annual event more volunteer driven 

By Mark Schadenberg
The Oxford community office for the Canadian Cancer Society had a guest visitor earlier this month, and it seemed like a timely meeting to begin the process of organizing Relay For Life for 2017.
In attendance at a 2-hour meeting was the new Ontario Executive Director of the CCS, Mark Hierlihy. 
The round table discussion, which included an easel with brain-storming thoughts and ideas, was moderated by Hierlihy as CCS staffers (Jan Cunningham, Pam Noels and Kelly Jorgensen), and committee volunteers from various CCS events and programs shared their ideas about the past, present and future.
Discussed were all facets of fundraising and volunteer efforts by the CCS, so daffodil sales were on the agenda, and so was donating time and effort in other capacities such as door-to-door canvassing, driving cancer patients to appointments, and most certainly Relay For Life.

 Mark Hierlihy

The Woodstock Relay For Life committee was well represented by myself, Deb Moss, Marie Bowerman, and province-wide organizer John Hunt.
I was quite impressed by Mark Hierlihy in all directions of the conversation, including when he admitted Relay For Life needs more input from local organizers, participants and contributors, and less hands-on planning from the provincial office. 
“Each Relay has its local flavor – local spirit, and each community can make Relay its own.
Hierlihy explained the provincial office will certainly set what he described as “guard rails” as if to use a curved road analogy, or guidelines for each Relay event.
The impact of Relay continues to be the luminaries and the accompanying luminary ceremony, the importance of recognizing the survivors’ lap and its emotional moments, and the concept of teams or groups bonding together in the framework of unity (family, friends, co-workers, etc) to assist the overall cause, which obviously encompasses raising money for CCS research projects.

With a lot of talk at the meeting about reaching top-of-awareness of Relay For Life and therefore maintaining participation numbers and dollars raised, Hierlihy talked about “engaging the next generation.”
Also, anyone donating money, admits Hierlihy, is expecting a maximum amount to be directed to the cause.
“Relay committees should be volunteer driven and staff supported,” he said, which is a 180-degree reversal from the past couple years. Less CCS office staff, admits Hierlihy, is one reason for the return of focus to the organizing committee’s efforts.
Hierlihy described a comparison used by former provincial and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (Passed away in 2014) about trying to avoid a headache when one eye is looking at an object with a magnifying glass, while the other eye is looking through a telescope.
Hierlihy reminded the CCS staff and volunteers gathered that the organization has had many “huge break-throughs” in finding a cure and that the CCS funds “many of the best current research projects with progress seen in many areas of treatments”.

The Relay slogan or tagline will shift again. Hash tabs such as #WhyIRelay, #AcceptTheBaton and #ReadySetRelay will still be used along with the poster slogan “It’s A Journey. Go The Distance”, but the emphasis will now be on a new slogan which will be unveiled publicly in the near future.


Relay For Life volunteer
And Oxford County full-time Realtor
Mark Schadenberg, sales rep
Royal LePage Triland Realty Brokerage

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