To benefit Stewart’s Caring Place and those impacted by cancer, the Butterfly Gala provides everyone the opportunity to fund hope

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Stewart’s Caring Place is active in the community, offering family and youth programs, community workshops and a summer camp for children. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Founded on the belief that there is more to cancer than chemotherapy and surgery, Stewart’s Caring Place gives cancer patients hope, helps them thrive—and supports the entire family.

Inspired by Dr. Stewart Surloff’s struggles and triumphs during his cancer journey, his wife, Mimi, created Stewart’s Caring Place in 2004 to provide other cancer patients, their families and caregivers a relaxed and caring environment that offers a myriad of supportive services and programs.

“Our cancer wellness center helps people navigate the journey after cancer diagnosis and treatment as a continuum of care,” says Executive Director Jeannine Marks, who has been with the organization since its inception. “We consider ourselves a resource of wraparound non-medical services that can benefit every member of the family.”

Its scope is far-reaching, as more than 1,400 families are taking advantage of the free programs and services.

“Everyone knows someone touched by cancer,” says Jeannine, noting that her brother who passed away from cancer was the impetus of her getting involved at the grassroots.

“We are here for every stage, age and phase of the journey,” she says. “One of the unique things about our organization is that we not only help those with cancer, we also support their family, friends and caregivers.”

“Our center currently services 15 counties throughout the state, offering more than 150 programs and services,” says Stephanie Davis-Dieringer, director of programs and operations.

This year the center has added online webinars, as well as more individualized counseling services and support groups. There also is a resource library with reliable information, so instead of Googling information that may be inaccurate, people have access to trustworthy, helpful resources.

With a focus on health and wellness, the center offers t’ai chi and yoga group classes, cooking classes featuring plant-based diets and nutrition counseling. Plus, integrative care services include reiki, foot reflexology, massage therapy and aromatherapy facials—all free of charge.

“We have a dedicated healing arts suite where we offer these services to help people who are currently in treatment stay relaxed,” says Stephanie.

The center also has a wig and beauty room with free wigs, hats and scarves.

“We work with all of the area hospitals and doctors, who refer patients to us after a diagnosis,” says Jeannine. “Oftentimes, the wig room is the gateway to our organization as patients come in for wigs and then see all we have to offer.”

The center has a wig and beauty room with free wigs, hats and scarves.

The center also helps families work through financial issues to lower their out-of-pocket costs associated with their illness. “We provide the tools patients need to better understand their insurance and finances, and we also work with community partners who volunteer their time and professional services to assist families,” says Stephanie.

“We are fortunate to have so many volunteers who help wherever needed and are very passionate about what they do,” says Jeannine. “We have 100-plus volunteers, whether answering phones, dropping off baked goods for support groups or helping with the Hope Walk and Butterfly Gala events.”

Stewart’s Caring Place is active in the community, offering family and youth programs, community workshops and a summer camp for children.

“After a cancer diagnosis, a person often feels overwhelmed, so we are here to help navigate the journey,” says Jeannine. “We are here to provide guidance, compassion and hope.”

Stewart’s Caring Place is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The center is located at 2955 West Market Street, Suite R, in Akron. For more information, call 330-836-1772 or visit

16th Annual Butterfly Gala