Mary Nowee and Meg McCallum met by chance at Not Me Art Gallery, owned by Mary and her husband Jerry.
Meg’s visit to the gallery led to the discovery of their shared desire to help people. When she learned of Meg’s work with the Nova Scotia Health Authority Cancer Care Program at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, Mary knew she wanted to help.
And when Meg asked if she’d donate a piece of art for a silent auction, Mary gave her a gallery instead.
“Meg is a glowing person — she radiates positive energy and gives it to others. I look for that in people and knew I could trust her immediately,” says Mary.
The gallery at Mary’s Glen Haven home features art pieces including textiles, paintings and photography from local artists, including Mary and Meg themselves. The gallery is an ongoing QEII Foundation community fundraiser where the proceeds from every sale in the gallery are donated to the Foundation, where one hundred per cent of those funds are directed to the Cancer Patient Support Fund. This fund helps to alleviate financial burden for cancer patients and their families by supporting costs like groceries, fuel, and parking.
Patients and families often reach out to QEII social workers, cancer patient navigators and other cancer health professionals from across the province to ask for assistance. In other cases, patient needs are identified by their healthcare team. Meg, the manager of Education, Practice Support and Special Projects with the cancer care program, then collaborates with colleagues to provide the best supports for each individual patient.
When Mary learned all funds raised go directly toward supporting patients and their families, she knew she’d found the right cause to support. She and Meg have now raised more than $11,000 and supported more than 114 patients through the Not Me Art Gallery initiative.
“People have to travel, the costs of all medications are not necessarily covered by the province, child or elder care are not covered and there are other small costs that build up quickly. So, the more we can help, the better,” says Meg.
Both women have been inspired by their close ties to cancer.
Mary has lost her parents, two siblings and several other close relations to the disease. Meg has also lost family members and has been a primary caregiver during family and friends’ cancer journeys.
“It’s the ‘C’ word. When Meg mentioned how she helps support people with cancer, I said to her, ‘I’m all ears and I hear you,’” says Mary.
But it’s not just cancer patients who the women are seeking to support through this initiative.
As Not Me Art grows and partners with businesses to create pop-up galleries with art for sale on their walls, Meg and Mary are aiming for funds raised to support patients in any area of care the business owner chooses. They currently have pop-up galleries at the Harbour General Store in Indian Harbour and at the Tantallon Royal Bank.
“It’s not limited and that’s the point. That is what this is all about — helping as many people as we can,” says Mary.
It’s an initiative that has been met with success and one that has inspired a unique friendship. But before these happened, it was one Mary felt warranted a sign from above to make her feel sure she’d done the right thing.
The sign didn’t take long to arrive — shortly after Meg left the gallery — and came in the form of a misdialed phone call, which spawned a two-hour conversation with the woman on the other end. She revealed to Mary that her husband was facing cancer and that she was unsure how they’d make it through, emotionally and financially.
Mary referred the woman to Meg and felt reassured that this phone call was no coincidence.
“That was it — that was the sign. And that was sign enough for me,” laughs Mary.
Full of inspiration and expanding their fundraising efforts, Mary and Meg are hosting a Not Me Art Gallery wine tasting and silent art auction at Bishop’s Cellar on November 28, 2019 in support of cancer patients and their families.
To learn how you can host a Not Me Art Gallery wall at your business or organization, contact Jessica Campbell, QEII Foundation Community Inspiration Officer, at 902 222 7532.