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“Paying It Forward”: Norway Savings Bank Visits Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine

NORWAY—“To know that these funds are going to the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine and that they will be used in such meaningful ways is so humbling. It will be transformational to people’s lives.”

As Pat Weigel speaks about the award that bears her name, she is clearly still overwhelmed by the honor bestowed on her by Norway Savings Bank.

The “Patricia Weigel Pay It Forward Award” was created in December 2021 to honor Pat, then President and CEO of the Bank, for her dedication to making a positive impact in the community. As part of the award, the winner receives $10,000 to support its mission.

“There is nothing the Bank could have done that makes me prouder than this award,” she said. “I love that the employees vote on the recipient each year. It’s very special to me.”

On January 30, Pat got a firsthand look at the recipient of the third annual award, the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine in Norway. Joining her on a tour of the Center were Norway Savings Bank President and CEO Dan Walsh and several employees of the Bank who volunteer there (picture below).

Diane Madden, Executive Director of the Center, led the walk around the facility, a warm environment with a healing room for patients to relax, a living room with couches and comfortable chairs, a full kitchen, a library, and a large meeting area in which groups gather for crafting, chair yoga, and other activities.

“A lot of those activities also serve as a support group for participants,” said Diane.

Tables are covered with donated pillows and knitted items made by the Comfort Angels, “hugs” for around the shoulders created by Cross-Country Quilters in Bethel that keep patients warm during chemotherapy, and even soft seat belt protectors for those going through treatment. Fitted wigs sit on multiple cabinets and shelves, and the basement is packed with wheelchairs, walkers, and commodes for those in need.

Over 130 new patients walk through the doors each year, many referred through partnerships with area hospitals and medical offices, but some simply walk up to the center where they are welcomed with a smile and a helping hand.

“A lot of our patients are isolated. They tell us they feel isolated, so this gives them a place to come in,” said Barbara Perry, a Cancer Resource Navigator who holds the initial meetings with new clients. “Some of them just need a space to talk things over and decide what to do. Those conversations are really valuable. We help them with emotional support and where to turn.”

When they can, the Center also assists with a variety of immediate challenges confronting patients, from gas cards to travel to appointments to internet access where they can receive resources they might not be aware of.

“It makes us feel good that there is something that we can do. When someone calls and says ‘we can’t pay our electric bill’ and we know that they have cancer and we can make it work, it makes us feel good that we can help,” said Barbara.

Meeting basic needs is where the donation from the “Patricia Weigel Pay It Forward Award” will play a consequential role.

“We want to use a large portion of it to fund our Patient Emergency Fund,” said Diane. “We have a lot of people who need different things like an electric blanket or some heating oil in a pinch. They’re one-off, individual cases, and we try to help people when we can. To have money we can put in a fund and to have donors be able to contribute to it will help so many people.”

And it’s a mission and a cause that means so much to Pat herself.

“These funds will help someone as they are battling such a brutal disease and go towards something in their life that is a matter of survival. My family has been touched by cancer in a big way. I’ve lost two siblings to cancer and I understand what families and patients need during the time when they are battling cancer,” she said. “To know that this organization exists to help people in such a time of need is really special to me. I’m just so happy we could support this particular organization.”

Service and extending benevolence in the community has driven Norway Savings Bank since 1866.

“The Bank has thrived and the only reason it has thrived is the people in the community, people who have helped the Bank grow and prosper,” said Pat. “So, in my mind, it’s our way of giving back and paying it forward. There are so many worthwhile non-profit organizations in our state addressing really critical issues. I think that our support helps all of us to be stronger as a state and a community. It’s a hallmark of the Norway Savings Bank culture.”

For more information on the Cancer Resource Center of Western Maine or to learn the many ways in which you can help them in their mission, visit www.crcofwm.org.