Helping new friends in need
Volunteer group completes housework, yard work and more for single mother undergoing cancer treatments
A Newberg mother is receiving help from a Portland-area volunteer organization as she undergoes treatment for cancer.
On Jan. 10, a group of 17 people working with a nonprofit group called Michelles Love made the trek to Newberg to provide assistance to resident Kelly Slepicka, a 38-year-old mother of three.
They grabbed a huge group of volunteers and sent my family on our way while they worked, she said. Its pretty awesome.
The volunteers did yard work and household tasks to help Slepicka as she prepared to go into surgery for breast cancer.
Andy McCandless, founder of Michelles Love, first had the idea for this sort of organization after her best friend Michelle died of cancer in 2003.
She was 32 and had four kids and was a single mom, McCandless said.
Through watching her friends battle with cancer she realized there are a lot of organizations working to find a cure, but in the meantime patients still struggle to keep up with the daily work that needs to be done even as treatment goes on.
In her friends position as a single mother, McCandless also saw the difficulty cancer and the treatment process can cause for single parents with increased responsibilities.
When theyre single and they dont have a spouse in the home, I dont think people think about that, she said.
McCandless founded and ran a similar organization in Arizona, before moving to Portland and founding Michelles Love in 2012. Since then the organization has helped more than 20 single mothers in the Portland region.
The recipients have been mostly located in the tri-county area, although the groups assistance has reached out to Columbia County. McCandless herself lives in Scappoose and when someone had reached out for help in the area she said the group would help.
Assisting Slepicka is the first time Michelles Love has offered its services in Newberg.
The actual assistance Michelles Love provides varies widely depending on the recipients needs. McCandless said they have provided meals, completed household cleaning projects and even arranged living will preparations. They also provide financial assistance, often in the form of paying a persons monthly expenses. Slepicka said the group had paid a portion of her bills.
Last year we paid $20,000 in utility bills, McCandless said, all of which was donated money.
Often the generosity shown by the volunteers is contagious, as was the case when McCandless helped a mother whose heater had broken.
We explained who we were when we called the heating company, she said. And they went out to fix it. Free of charge.
Michelles Love will help five people at a time, McCandless said, to make sure that quality is valued over quantity. To fill those five available positions, the group mostly gets references through hospitals.
When we started, my sister and I went and asked to meet with nurse navigators in local oncology units, so we built a relationship with them, and they like to call us quite a bit, McCandless said.
Thats how she got connected with Slepicka, through a referral from an oncologist.
Kelly was one of those moms, she was just a perfect match, McCandless said.
As Slepicka continues with treatment, Michelles Love plans to continue helping her with various services.
Two of the moms who showed up (on Jan. 10), theyve been involved in Michelles Love since the beginning. Theyre going to pick up her laundry, walk her dogs and pick up her meals for the next two weeks, McCandless said.
And theyre all doing it for nothing in return.
Its really amazing, Slepicka said. Such an incredible gift to people who are going through something so hard.
To learn more about Michelles Love, visit www.michelleslove.org.Add a comment