FAIRLAWN — Stewart’s Caring Place is searching for a new home.
Executive Director Jeannine Marks said the nonprofit organization, which offers a variety of free services and support groups for cancer patients and their families, has outgrown its 7,400-square-foot space in Suite R at 2955 W. Market St. in Fairlawn.
“We're busting at the seams,” said Marks, who’s been with the organization from the beginning, starting out on the board of directors and eventually becoming executive director almost four years ago.
The organization is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $3 million to find a new facility, either through renovation of an existing building or construction of a new one.
“We're feverishly searching every avenue possible,” Marks said.
They’re looking in a 10-mile radius of their current Fairlawn location to ensure they stay centrally located for the 15 counties they serve, Marks said.
The new building would need to be between 12,000 and 15,000 square feet, allowing for both additional programming and hiring of new staff.
Features in the new building could include a full teaching kitchen, which they don’t have now, to allow for cooking classes; a larger garden and outdoor space; more space for yoga classes; two extra rooms for massages, reiki and aromatherapy facials to bring them to four total rooms; a larger counseling area; a larger library; a larger children’s space; and a larger wig room.
Marks joked she wants to be out of the current building “yesterday,” adding they hope to be in a new space by this time next year.
Stewart’s Caring Place is named after Stewart Surloff, an Akron podiatrist who was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer in February 2001, said his wife and founding member, Mimi Surloff Markis, in a video about Stewart’s.
Markis said although the diagnosis “threw our world upside down” and left them “groping our way through the process,” they had a strong support system of family, friends and community, something Surloff realized not all cancer patients have.
Before Surloff died later that year, he left an endowment to the Jewish community. He dreamed of a facility offering nonmedical support services to the Akron and Summit County community, his wife said.
Stewart’s Caring Place: Cancer Wellness Center opened in October 2004 and helps about 1,400 families each year, offering about 150 programs, all at no cost.
Executive Director Marks said the organization, which has its 13th annual Hope Walk May 11, fills the void that can be left after someone receives a cancer diagnosis and they or their loved ones don’t know what to do next.
The programs are wraparound support services for the entire family, including counseling, a food pantry, yoga, debt management courses and financial assistance.
“You name it, if there's something that a family needs around this diagnosis, then we find answers for them,” said Marks, who said Stewart’s also works with about 100 community partners to help support the programs.
Last year, Stewart’s served more than 680 participants from Summit County alone, said Stephanie Davis-Dieringer, director of programs and operations. So far this year, it has already served more than 300 people from Summit County.
“We work with participants, not only those newly diagnosed, but those survivors, those caregivers, those friends and those families ... We are continuing to grow,” Marks said. “Our reach and our mission is getting out there, so more people are able to come in and receive services at no cost at Stewart's Caring Place.”
Markis said in the video Stewart’s is “very committed” to providing its services free of charge.
“We have in the past had times where our budgetary concerns have led us to question whether we should be looking for ways to charge, but we really don't want to do that,” she said. “And so we are fortunate and grateful that up to this point and hopefully into the future, we will continue to have the funding.”
Contact reporter Emily Mills at 330-996-3334, firstname.lastname@example.org and @EmilyMills818.