THE STORY OF MARY’S PLACE: BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Courtesy Mary’s Place…

Conceived of by Michele Gannon in January 2009, Mary’s Place By The Sea came together with almost miraculous speed:  by May of that year, it was fully established as a bona fide non-profit organization, and in June the first major fund-raising concert was held at the Paramount Theatre on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, NJ, just steps from its first home in an ocean-front B&B.

The facility quickly became a center not only of help and healing, but also a growing resource for stakeholders in the life of a woman undergoing treatment for cancer: families, physicians, nutritionists, and service providers of all kinds came to trust and share in the rewards offered by this innovative respite and its uniquely qualified founders.

Michele Gannon first envisioned Mary’s Place while recovering from a non-life-threatening illness in January 2009.  Needing to carry on caring for her family, including three young children, she wondered how women who were in far more dire circumstances would fare.  This transcendent thought process planted the seed that promptly grew into a large, living and healing network.

Mary’s Place by the Sea in Ocean Grove

During that same winter, Ms. Gannon shared her vision with a fellow mother, Maria McKeon, at her children’s school.  The two women developed a kindred-spirited collaboration which fuels the growth and accomplishments of Mary’s Place By The Sea:  in the course of just three years, more than 550 women have benefited from the peaceful care, concern and support found there, while numerous fund-raisers (large-scale concerts to small, private fashion shows, and an annual Walk-a-Thon), generous sponsors, over 250 volunteers, and thousands of individual donations have literally “raised the roof” on a place of their own:  Mary’s Place By The Sea has evolved to its current site on Broadway in Ocean Grove, in a lease-to-buy situation.  The three-story Victorian home faces Fletcher Lake and lies one block west of the Atlantic Ocean.

Guests find solace in the many different services that blend elements of traditional and alternative medicine:  oncological massage therapy, spa and salon treatments, nutritious meals, yoga, touch therapy, journal writing, group workshops plus individual counseling, prevention lectures, support groups – or, no services at all, just the chance to find some peace.  It is to this highly spiritual, non-denominational sanctuary that women, broken and exhausted from their battle, are welcomed and comforted with the love and kindness embodied by the Virgin Mary, caregiver of all.

The founders’ quest – driven by the spirit of altruism, hope and philanthropy that motivated them in 2009 and continues to thrive for thousands today – promises to serve multiples more in future:  based on the level of inquiries from numerous US regions, it may not be long before the mantra behind Gannon and McKeon’s endeavor, It’s the Right Thing to Do:  Make It Happen, creates a Mary’s Place By The Sea phenomenon coast-to-coast.

More information available at: MarysPlaceByTheSea.org.

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