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Dempsey Center announces budget cuts and layoffs

With donations way down during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dempsey Centers in Lewiston and South Portland have been forced to make budget cuts.

PORTLAND, Maine — COVID-19 has not been kind to non-profit organizations. Donations are down, and many are really struggling to survive. The Dempsey Center, founded by actor and Mainer Patrick Dempsey, is not on the verge of closing by any means. However, the organization is being forced to make some tough decisions.

Today, Wendy Tardiff, the executive director, announced budget cuts that include layoffs.  

Tardiff says, "COVID-19 has resulted in a decline in donations and the cancellation of several fundraising events. Consequently, the plan calls for substantial budget cuts including vendor relationships, professional expenses, and the elimination of 5 positions."

The Dempsey Center's motto is "making life better for people managing the impact of cancer." The centers offer a variety of services including one-on-one counseling, nutrition counseling, wig fittings, acupuncture, and massage. All services are provided at no charge.

Tardiff says there have been some positives during the pandemic. They've launched their virtual center, which allows people far away from the brick and mortar locations to access services online.  And according to a survey conducted by the Center, a lot of people have been using those services.  According to that survey, 43 percent of the patients have used a virtual adult counseling session, 26 percent participating in a virtual fitness class, and 59 percent say they'd prefer a mix of virtual and in-person services going forward.

The Center announced last week that its biggest annual fundraiser, The Dempsey Challenge, will be a virtual event this year. The hope is that riders, walkers, and cancer survivors all over the world will take part.

Tardiff says the Dempsey Center is planning to open back up in the fall, based on CDC guidance and patient feedback.  

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