The Halloween themed table entitled "Me & My Ghoulfriends" is one fo 28 decorated tables at the 2019 Circle of Hope Afternoon Tea event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Celebrating 15 years of Circle of Hope

Circle of Hope celebrated their 15th annual Afternoon Tea on Saturday with guests, a keynote speaker, silent and live auctions, and more at the Hyatt Regency Valencia.

This nonprofit helps those with cancer or recovering from cancer, giving them the opportunity and funds to focus solely on their recovery rather than their debt, according to officials. 

Circle of Hope Support Group Facilitator Wendy Thrush , left, and Executive Director Laura Kirchhoff (cq) chat before the 2019 Circle of Hope Afternoon Tea event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“Nobody going through Circle of Hope will pay a dime,” said Laura Kirchhoff, executive director of Circle of Hope.  “All services through Circle of Hope are free.” 

In California, they are the only nonprofit that pays for medical treatment, according to founder Colleen Schaffer. Schaffer, who is a cancer survivor herself, struggled financially when she was diagnosed and never wanted anyone to worry about debt. She believes their recovery should be the main focus.

“Circle of Hope is teamwork, it is support,” she said. “Even though I’m 68 years old and retired, I still help with the support group because I know what it is like to be a cancer patient.”

Circle of Hope offers services with Hope’s Haven Cancer Wellness Center for self-care purposes. It is meant to help treat side effects from months of cancer treatment at no cost. “We include yoga, Swedish massage, dance class and a variety of other services for our clients,” said Marguerite Berg, program director of Hope’s Haven.

Keynote speaker, cancer survivor Melanie Meyer (cq) holds up a vase full of colored M&M’s to illustrate how her organized life was turned to caos by cancer as she speaks during 2019 Circle of Hope Afternoon Tea event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

The event’s keynote speaker, Melanie Meyer, described her journey from diagnosis to recovery along with the importance of her faith. Her speech led to a standing ovation from the audience. 

Throughout the event, guests were able to bid in a silent auction for different packages such as tickets to the Magic Castle and wine tasting in Napa Valley. And for the first time, they performed a live auction near the end of the event.

Comfort and Joy is number 25 of 28 decorated tables at the 2019 Circle of Hope Afternoon Tea event held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

The theme for this year’s tea event was “Celebrating 15 years of Hope,” which paid homage to the past tea events over the years. Each table was decorated with glimpses of themes from the past. 

Afternoon Tea was one of more than 31 events held during their 31 days of hope. In the month of October, they are doing more than 31 events to benefit City of Hope and their community.

“We believe with all our hearts that no one should fight cancer alone, and we envision a time where every hand will be held and every fear addressed,” Circle of Hope’s vision statement says.

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