Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

Grassroots focus for cancer charity manager

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Helen Alice, Breast Cancer Support Service's new service manager. Photo/George Novak
Helen Alice, Breast Cancer Support Service's new service manager. Photo/George Novak

Breast Cancer Support Service has welcomed its new service manager, a woman who has dedicated her life to working for non-profit organisations.

Helen Alice said she had received such a warm welcome since starting her new role in December that she "already feels at home".

Mrs Alice said she was attracted to Tauranga and the Breast Cancer Support Service not only because of the "gorgeous" area but because she wanted to be a part of a grassroots organisation with a local focus.

What I love about the role, what attracted me to it, is the fact that it's such important work to help support people who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.
Helen Alice

Mrs Alice worked for a not-for-profit in Brisbane for the past four years, and before that she worked for Barnardos, an organisation which provided services to at-risk and disadvantaged children and their families, in Christchurch.

"It's a big shift for me from working at quite large organisations with a more strategic focus," she said.

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"What I love about the role, what attracted me to it, is the fact that it's such important work to help support people who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.

"It's really focused on what it can do in the local community," she said.

Mrs Alice thought it was important to work in the local community and make a difference.

"There aren't many people who haven't been touched by breast cancer in their lives, and I have people close to me who have lived with breast cancer and have died with breast cancer, so it's obviously an important area of work."

Mrs Alice replaced Lea Lehndors who had been service manager since 2012. Ms Lehndors left the role to spend more time with her family.

Though it is still early days, Mrs Alice says she already enjoys it and has been made to feel at home in Tauranga.

New Breast Cancer support service manager Helen Alice. Photo/George Novak
New Breast Cancer support service manager Helen Alice. Photo/George Novak

"There are two best things about the job so far," she said.

"One is meeting people who, in the face of trauma and fear, are survivors. They are strong - stronger than they knew they would need to be, and are living with the new reality that they are faced with having a breast cancer diagnosis.

"The other thing I have really been humbled by is the number of generous people, in terms of their time and money, who support us."

The Breast Cancer Support Service receives no funding from government. Rather, it depends on support from generous locals, fundraising and grants.

The Tauranga organisation is an independent charitable trust based on the principle of survivors supporting new patients.

Mrs Alice said she was focused on continuing the good services already provided by the group, while also ensuring it was able to financially continue.

Mrs Alice moved to Tauranga with her partner in October, and had been enjoying the "gorgeous" area and the warm (but more bearable than Brisbane) climate.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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