Mary’s Place By The Sea takes “Jersey Strong” to a whole new level!
This picturesque Ocean Grove oasis offers women battling cancer a much-needed break from their health challenges.
#HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino chatted with Mary’s Place co-founder, Michele Gannon, about this groundbreaking organization and how #Hippers can help them them win Revlon’s “Love is On” Million Dollar Challenge, ending on October 29th.
Lisa Marie Latino: Hi Michele, it’s so great to speak with you. How did you start this tremendous effort?
Michele Gannon: Thank you Lisa Marie, we’re so thankful for Hip New Jersey to feature us! In 2009, I was dealing with my own short-term illness and I found it very hard to focus on my health while balancing my household tasks. During that chaos, I had a “light bulb moment”- what are women going through that have long-term illnesses or ailments much more serious than my own?! I had a vision of creating a serene space that women can enjoy without their day-to-day responsibilities.
By that spring, I shared my plan with my dear friend Maria McKeon, a fitness and wellness coach with over 30 years experience. We put our plan into motion very quickly. We rented a bed & breakfast in Ocean Grove, established our 501(c)(3) status, developed our integrative holistic program, and opened our doors June of 2009!
LML: Life is funny like that, right? The worst of times seem to lead us down our best path in life!
MG: Exactly right.
LML: That is the mark of a strong woman! Anyway, what do you provide your guests?
MG: Mary’s Place offers private rooms with breathtaking views of the ocean and the lake, plus easily accessible bathrooms. Guests can mingle on our porch or our cozy living room with a fireplace. In our kitchen, we teach our guests how to juice and prepare healthy meals. We believe in our holistic, integrative approach with respect to their medical treatment, and those services include oncology massage, individual counseling sessions, nutritional counseling, guided meditation, reflexology, journaling, yoga and much more.
LML: Are women only coming from New Jersey or from other parts of the East Coast?
MG: Women from all over the United States, including Alaska, have stayed at Mary’s Place. Our services our 100% free, and we welcome all walks of life! Our future plans include expanding around the country.
LML: That’s amazing! What do “outsiders” think of the Garden State?
MG: They absolutely love it. The community of Ocean Grove has been really great to our women. During their “free day”, restaurants have provided them with free meals. It’s brought everyone closer.
LML: New Jersey can sometimes have an iffy reputation across the country, so thank you for helping buck that stereotype! How are you raising money and awareness to keep Mary’s Place going?
MG: We fundraise, fundraise, fundraise! Due to high demand, we decided that we needed a larger space and recently broke ground on a brand-new, ten bedroom property. It’s a hefty price tag [$2.7 million] but the amount of women our new home will help is priceless.
LML: Your current fundraising effort is Revlon’s “Love is On” Million Dollar Challenge. Can you share what that is?
MG: Charities dedicated to women’s cancers, heart disease, and diabetes are taking part in an online fundraising competition to raise the most money for their cause. The organization which raises the most donations will win an additional one million dollars from Revlon, and second place receives $250,000.
LML: Winning the Challenge would be a huge help, obviously.
MG: Absolutely, but at the same time we feel like we’ve already won. Since we entered the contest on September 21st, we’ve raised $138,000. We’re number one in donors. We’re currently in third place behind two large organizations, but we’re hanging tough.
LML: Between now and when the contest ends on October 29th, what can Hip New Jersey readers do to help you leapfrog into the number one slot?
MG: They can help donate to the campaign by visiting Crowdrise.com/marysplacebythesea-revlon. We thank your readers for anything they can contribute!
For more on Mary’s Place, visit MarysPlaceByTheSea.org.