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Gathering Place celebrates move to Corporate College West

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
The Gathering Place’s West Side location at Cuyahoga Community College’s Corporate College West building is named after cancer survivor Sandy Borrelli. co-owner of Bella Capelli Sanctuario spa in Westlake.

By KEVIN KELLEY
WESTLAKE

The Gathering Place‘s new location at Cuyahoga Community College’s Corporate College West building offers greater space and a more visible, accessible location for those attending its programs, its founder and CEO said.

“It’s a great location,” Eileen Saffran said of the building at the corner of Columbia and Center Ridge roads. “It’s easy to find.”

Saffran established the nonprofit organization that provides free support services for cancer patients and their families in Beachwood in 2000. A West Side location, on Sharon Drive, opened in 2008 in a building owned by Youth Challenge, a nonprofit group that offers recreational opportunities to children with physical disabilities.

Early last year, Youth Challenge informed the Gathering Place its lease would not be renewed because it needs to expand. Last summer, the Gathering Place signed a 10-year lease for unused space at the Tri-C property. Gathering Place leaders also announced last August that its new West Side location would be named after Sandy Borrelli, co-owner of Bella Capelli Sanctuario spa in Westlake and a cancer survivor.

More than 500 donors, many of them personal friends of Borrelli, contributed more than $600,000 in a capital campaign that funded renovations associated with the move.

“A majority of those donations are from the West Side,” said Kristina Austin, chief marketing officer for the Gathering Place.

Saffran told about 150 Gathering Place supporters attending an Aug. 30 celebration that the new location will enable the organization to serve more people.

Located on the first floor of Tri-C’s Corporate College West building, the Sandy Borrelli Center contains 6,550 square feet for its offices and programs, up from 4,750 square feet in its Sharon Road location. The space had earlier been vacated by the Richard E. Jacobs Group, which previously owned the building but still leases office space there.

Various rooms are designated for support group meetings and group activities. A calendar listing activities for the week included yoga, Tai Chi and exercise classes.

A large room with windows facing Center Ridge Road is the art therapy room, complete with a new kiln. The room also features a kitchen and is used for cooking classes.

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
A children’s playroom includes medical-related toys to help kids better understand a parent’s illness.

A children’s room includes typical toys, such as dolls, along with some not so usual toys, like a play MRI machine.

Casey Durkin, the Gathering Place’s family program director, said toys help children better understand what an ill parent is going through.

“Kids can put on a doctor’s coat and stethoscope to get their arms around what’s happening to their adult loved ones,” Durkin explained.

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
A wig salon provides women who lose their hair as a side effect of chemotherapy with wigs at no cost.

New to the Borrelli Center is a wig salon, which provide women who lose their hair as a side effect of chemotherapy with wigs at no cost.

Borrelli, a 10-year survivor of stage IV melanoma, was referred to the Gathering Place by her physician. The Lakewood resident is now a lifetime board member.

“This placed saved me on so many levels,” Borrelli told Gathering Place benefactors who attended the Aug. 30 celebration.

(West Life photo by Kevin Kelley)
Sandy Borrelli

Borrelli said the new center that bears her name is not only her legacy but the legacy of all Gathering Place supporters and donors.

“A legacy is the lives you’ve touched and the lives you’ve changed and what you’ve done,” Borrelli said.

The Gathering Place’s Sandy Borrelli Center will host a community open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday. The address is 25425 Center Ridge Road. Parking is available in the back of the building.

 

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