What the congregation at Urbana Friends Church lacks in numbers, it makes up for in sheer determination and a strong willingness to do whatever it takes to help one of its own fight for her life.
Founded in 1905 under the Quaker faith and located across from the old paper mill at 204 Rohrer St., Urbana Friends Church is home to 43 members and a congregation that ranges from 50 to 60 attendees on a given Sunday. Church member Pennie Delaney is spearheading one of the church’s biggest undertakings to date – a fundraiser to benefit Lorena Campbell, an Urbana High School graduate diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.
According to Delaney, Campbell, who lives in Northridge with her husband and 11-year-old daughter, was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. After undergoing chemotherapy, Campbell began to feel better for a period of time before doctors discovered a spot on her liver. After undergoing radiation, hormonal treatment and chemotherapy again, Campbell was dealt more discouraging news.
“She recently found out a couple weeks ago that the spot on her liver is gone, but it’s now in her bones,” Delaney said. “Because of this, she’s considered Stage 4 now.”
Delaney added that due to the physical toll the cancer has taken on Campbell, she left her job at Developmental Disabilities of Clark County, a place she worked nearly two decades.
“After she lost her job, I just kept thinking there has to be something I can do,” Delaney said. “Personally, I needed to do something, so I just kept on praying about it. The same thought just kept coming to my mind – do a benefit, do a benefit.”
Two things, however, were standing between Delaney and her desire to help Campbell and her family – history and volunteers.
With support from the congregation as well as the blessing of the church board and Pastor Fred Kensler – who told Delaney “Our church needs to be challenged” – Urbana Church Friends will be hosting The Love and Hope Benefit for Lorena Campbell next month.
“We have never done anything like this,” Delaney said. “That’s the scary part.”
The fundraiser for Campbell, whose father, James Chess, was the Urbana Friends Church pastor for over 25 years, will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on March 4 at the church.
The benefit will consist of a live auction scheduled for 5:15 p.m., a silent auction, a bake sale and a dinner.
The meal, which costs $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 11, will include Bob Evans potato or chili soup, tossed salad, bread, dessert and a drink. The meal is available for carryout.
Presale tickets are encouraged, but not required. Tickets are available at the church by calling 937-653-4172.
As for the live and silent auctions, Delaney said she expects there will be at least 50 items up for bid, including a late-1950s Singer sewing machine in working condition that church members previously used to make baby quilts. Other items include gift certificates, gift baskets, home décor items, handmade quilts, Ohio State University-themed items, and various other homemade or handcrafted items.
“The people who attend here are very loving,” Delaney said. “Most of the stuff is from them or friends of theirs. Everybody does their part in this church.
“Every time I ask for something, someone is there to help me,” she added.
Community members wishing to donate items to the live or silent auctions can do so by calling the church at 937-653-4172.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.