Volunteers guide families through tough times

Forest Hill artist serves as a Nanny Angel to families in need


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Forest Hill artist Marla Buck says her creavity was an asset as a Nanny Angel

Forest Hiller Marla Buck is a dancer, artist and designer, but to some families, she is considered an angel.

Buck is just one of the 32 trained volunteers who provided care last year to families affected by cancer. The network was founded by Audrey Guth, who drew on her experiences, not only as a cancer survivor, but as a child affected by a parent’s illness.

“When I was very young I had a parent who had cancer, and we lived with that for three years until my father passed away,” Guth said. “I remember how haunting that was, going to treatment with him.”

Guth said that her idea sparked during her own cancer treatments. “I was looking around the room. There were these young mothers with children. I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t a place for children.’”

Wanting to provide that care for mothers who could not afford it, she started the Nanny Angel Network in 2008. Nannies work varying hours, from occasional visits to long days, taking care of children and daily household tasks while the children’s mothers attend treatments, recuperate and rest. Last year, 48 per cent of the mothers were single parents.

Marla Buck, a mother of two grown children, used her creative side to keep her own kids’ spirits high. “As a young mother, we didn’t have a lot, so we would make our own fun — we’d have holidays in the city,” said Buck.

She has assisted some of the children in her care with a large-scale painting project. “I was really fortunate, because the mother had a good result in the end, but obviously the hard parts are when that doesn’t happen.”

She hopes that over time the program will gain name recognition in the GTA.

“It’s not really on the tip of everybody’s lips right now,” said Buck. “But if you have a bad prognosis, go to Nanny Angel Network. They are amazing.”

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