Safeway Employees Continue Support of Important Wellness and Rehabilitation Programs

Employees at Safeway recently donated $12,769.19 to two important programs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre – the WE-Can program for individuals living with cancer, and the Rehabilitation and Healthy Lifestyles Program for those who’ve experienced cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to supporting their community, Safeway is proud to step up.

Earlier this year Safeway employees donated $12,769.19 to two important programs at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, ensuring cancer and cardiac patients have the best possible outcomes when they leave our Hospital.

The WE-Can (Wellness and Exercise for Individuals Living with Cancer) program is a valuable stepping stone for participants who are either currently undergoing cancer treatment, or have finished treatments in the past 5 years. WE-Can focuses on exercise and healthy living, helping patients get back on their feet with a twice-weekly program that runs for 10 weeks.

As part of their wellness program, participants tour Safeway on Dawson Road, alongside a Registered Dietitian, to learn which foods have a positive effect on health, and possibly reduce the risk of cancer recurrence.

“We’re fortunate to have Susan Pienig, Registered Dietitian from Regional Cancer Centre Northwest at our Hospital, to provide these tours to the WE-Can participants,” says Kelly-Jo Gillis, Manager of Preventive Health Services at the Health Sciences Centre. “Because of the small group setting, Sue is able to provide an interactive tour at Safeway, focusing on the specific needs and interests of the participants. Sue’s expertise in this field of nutrition and cancer is greatly appreciated by the participants, as they leave the tour with knowledge about food and nutrition labels as well as healthy meal ideas and food preparation tips.”

Safeway’s support goes well beyond hosting these tours. The WE-Can program relies entirely on donations, and Safeway employees have played a large role in ensuring the program can keep running – donating a total of $27,151.23 since 2015.

“For decades the company and employees from the six Northwestern Ontario Safeway stores have continued to donate thousands of dollars to help support critical health programs and services in Northwestern Ontario,” says Natalina Porpiglia-Dafnis, Sobeys Inc. Community Investment Specialist.

Gillis explains, “We rely solely on donations to run the WE-Can program, so of course we are thrilled to have Safeway supporting us again this year. The program has continued to change the lives of many cancer patients since the program’s inception in 2009. Our evaluation of the program shows significant improvements in participants’ physical functioning, decreased fatigue, and improved quality of life for those in treatment and post-treatment.”

Kyle Baysarowich, Regional Manager of the Rehabilitation and Healthy Lifestyles Program at the Health Sciences Centre, echoes Gillis’ sentiments. “Over the past 3 years Safeway employees have generously donated to our program to enhance participant experience, and help ensure they have the tools they need to reduce their risk of another cardiovascular event.”

The Rehabilitation and Healthy Lifestyles Program provides risk factor education, counseling, and exercise prescription for individuals who primarily have cardiac disease, “but we are slowly integrating vascular, and stroke populations,” Baysarowich shares.

“This year we’ll use Safeway’s donation to purchase 2 new exercise cycles that will be used by over 500 program participants and 10,000 visits. We sincerely thank the employees of Safeway for their continued support and helping improve cardiac, vascular, and stroke care in Northwestern Ontario.”

Safeway employees continue to be leaders in supporting healthcare in our community, and their generous donations are going a long way to help patients live healthier lives.

“We are pleased that the contributions from the Safeway Employee Payroll Donation program directed to support cancer and heart health programs will continue to support the WE-Can Program and Rehabilitation and Healthy Lifestyles Program at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre,” says Porpiglia-Dafnis.