Caring volunteers

Volunteers that Care, a non-profit organization in Coudersport, which provides prepaid Sheetz cards to cancer patients to use for travel expenses, received a $10,000 grant from Dominion Energy on Feb. 6. Pictured are Mikell Haskins, Linda Bretz, Jeremiah Kosa, Kathy Boyd, Linda Knowlton and Lorraine Hemphill.

COUDERSPORT — The cost of treating cancer adds up, especially if treatments are conducted at a distance from the patient’s hometown. Enter Volunteers That Care.

For the past eight years, Volunteers That Care has provided wigs, hats, scarves and wig heads, as well as $100 Sheetz gift cards to Potter County cancer patients — either residents receiving treatment outside of the area or patients receiving treatments in the county — to offset the patients’ and caregivers’ travel expenses.

“The look on their faces when we hand them the gas card …,” Loraine Hemphill, volunteer, remarked. “ ...you can’t imagine.”

Linda Bretz, president of the organization, said the group — consisting of approximately 11 volunteers — has given out 100 to 200 cards each year since its foundation; that’s approximately $10,000 to $20,000 every year. The money used to load the cards is all generated by fundraising, donations and grants. In 2015, the group received a $20,000 grant from the MEE Foundation and every year they hold at least one fundraiser, such as bingo or spaghetti dinners.

Bretz said planning begins in March on how to raise the funds they need for the next year.

In addition to hosting events and applying for grants, Bretz said they have activity and information tables at Maple Fest and Fall Fest, as well as share with community groups, about their organization.

“The community support is overwhelming,” Bretz said.

On Feb. 6, Dominion Energy presented the organization with a $10,000 check for their efforts.

“A donation was granted to the Volunteers that Care from the Dominion Energy Foundation,” press contact Samantha Norris said.

Norris said the grant was awarded to Volunteers that Care because the group supports access to medical treatment and health care specifically for cancer patients from the community.”

Bretz said she was thrilled when she was notified they were awarded the grant.

“I was so excited when (I) received the letter, stating (we) had been approved,” Bretz said.

Jeremiah Kosa, manager of gas operations for Dominion’s Northern Area, presented the funds to a handful of the organization’s volunteers.

“The Dominion energy Charitable Foundation is honored to support the non-profit Volunteers That Care,” Kosa said. “We are inspired by their commitment to our neighbors and commend the service and compassion they extend to those during a time of great need.”

Anyone interested in joining Volunteers that Care is encouraged to call Betz at 814-203-0889. Bretz said they are always in need of more members and the only requirement is to agree to their mission statement:

“Volunteers that Care is a non-profit organization. We provide support to people who are battling cancer and are living in or being treated in Potter County. Cancer patients are eligible to receive a gas card to help with travel expenses to cancer treatments. We also supply wigs and head covers to those in need.”