When a fundraiser on behalf of local leader and former Falmouth Service Center director Brenda Swain went live, hundreds jumped at the opportunity to contribute. Organizers of the GoFundMe account are still seeking support to reach its goal.
Ms. Swain was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer earlier this year. She is undergoing chemotherapy, but the care will be palliative.
“Your donations to this campaign will cover Brenda’s medical and the family’s household expenses on the road ahead. Travel that road with us as we celebrate Falmouth’s community hero: Brenda Swain,” the GoFundMe page reads.
Ms. Swain served as the Falmouth Service Center director for 17 years, during which she oversaw hundreds of volunteers and multiple programs. She took leave from her role earlier this summer after receiving her diagnosis.
“It became clear early on that the Swains were going to be meeting unanticipated expenses of all kinds,” said Rabbi Elias J. Lieberman of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation.
He and Judith Fenwick, former Falmouth Service Center board president, suggested a GoFundMe page to enable members of the community to offer support. They approached Ms. Swain and her family for permission.
“She was reticent to launch the campaign,” Rabbi Lieberman said. It took some persuading to convince Ms. Swain and her family to allow them to set up the fundraiser. He has known Ms. Swain for more than 30 years.
The GoFundMe, Rabbi Lieberman said, serves another purpose beyond raising money. The fundraiser enables people who care about Ms. Swain “to feel that they can do something,” instead of feeling helpless, Rabbi Lieberman said.
The fundraiser went live on September 22, and the family set a goal of $100,000. To date, the GoFundMe account has raised $54,000.
While people close to Ms. Swain and volunteers at the Falmouth Service Center were aware of her diagnosis, many found out through the GoFundMe page, which was shared on social media more than 900 times.
Over 150 comments have been left on the page by donors. Ms. Swain and her family read each one, Rabbi Lieberman said. Some donors admitted never knowing Ms. Swain personally, but wrote they had heard of her dedication to the community and wanted to contribute.
“Brenda is a legend in Falmouth. I know her only by reputation, and I am grateful for all she has done to support the people of the community,” one donor wrote.
Another donor said she contributed to the account, “for all the love and support that Brenda has extended to others without judgement. You are loved and very special.”
The GoFundMe donations have not been limited to individuals. Local churches and businesses have gotten involved as well, contributing on behalf of congregations and employees.
There have been more than 470 donations to the GoFundMe account as of this publication.
Members of the community have shown support in other ways as well. A sign-up sheet to cook meals for Ms. Swain’s family filled-up quickly and is no longer accepting offers, said Kerin Delaney, acting executive director of the Falmouth Service Center.
People have sent cards and flowers to the service center in an effort to reach out to Ms. Swain and her family. “Everybody has just been so supportive of Brenda,” Ms. Delaney said, “She’s certainly missed in our day-to-day activities at the service center.”
There is no end-date for the GoFundMe campaign, Rabbi Lieberman said, and he remains hopeful that they will reach their goal. In lieu of using GoFundMe to contribute, people looking to donate can send a check made payable to Falmouth Jewish Congregation, with “Swain account” in the memo line.