Val Authenac: Radiating Hope and Inspiring Positive Change for the Cancer Community
Val Authenac has become a beacon of positive change, leaving an indelible mark through her unwavering commitment to community service. From her early roots in Fairview, Alberta, to establishing her home in Grande Prairie, Val's journey has been intertwined with the spirit of the region and its remarkable people.
Val's relationship with the Peace Region is one of profound appreciation and connection. Having moved to Grande Prairie in 1985, she reflects on the incredible people and the unique blend of a small city feel with the amenities of a larger city. This sense of community has allowed her to fuel her passions.
"I have always loved helping people and volunteering," says Val, emphasizing the immediate benefits that extend beyond individuals to the entire community. Her altruistic spirit embodies the essence of creating a better place and, in doing so, encountering the magic of meeting amazing humans.
Val's journey took a transformative turn when she faced her cancer diagnosis. Confronting the fragility of life, she sought to spend her time making a meaningful difference. The realization of a need for breast cancer support in the region inspired her to take action. Val found her tribe in the remarkable women of the Mozart Mission and Support the Girls, organizations dedicated to breast cancer awareness and support. Inspired by these empowering women, Val decided to be the change she envisions for the world.
In acknowledging the difficulty of rallying people to give their time for fundraising and programs, Val draws inspiration from the 'Fabulous Four,' a group of women who exemplify the power of collective effort, “they give what they can, make room for everyone to help, sometimes all that was required of you was to pick something up.” Val has learned and emphasized the importance of breaking up tasks into smaller time commitments to encourage more widespread participation in community volunteering.
For Val, making a difference requires finding a cause that resonates, taking that first step, and embracing the joy it brings.
Val generously supports the Victoria's Attic Support the Girls fundraiser and fashion show, raising money for local breast cancer initiatives. Val explains, “we were able to take support bags for breast cancer patients to the next level with the support of the GPRH Foundation and now there are support bags for all patients undergoing cancer treatment here in the Grande Prairie Cancer Centre.”
As the on-site host coordinator for the Look Good Feel Better program at the Grande Prairie Cancer Centre, Val plays a pivotal role in providing makeup and wig application classes for women undergoing cancer treatments. Val goes on to say; “we have had 2 classes so far and it is amazing to see the transformation of the attendees. I wish I had been able to attend when I was undergoing treatment.”
Val has been an instrumental part of the Mozart Mission, contributing to the acquisition of a 3D imaging machine for the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital. The organization, initiated by Alison Bergsma, surpassed its goal and donated over $214,000 to the Mobile Mammography Clinic.
One of Val’s most memorable experiences in her work was the Mozart Mission Mixer. The overwhelming support from the community, with people even arriving on the night of the event to donate items for a silent auction, showcased the generosity that brings Val to tears when reminiscing about the incredible people she shares her city with.
Currently, Val is actively involved in a committee through the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation, raising funds to replace the Mobile Mammography Clinic for the North Zone; “It provides mammograms to rural indigenous and smaller communities from Valleyview, Jasper, and up to Fort McMurray. We need to raise $1.5 million dollars and have approximately $600,000.00 raised so far.” This clinic is a life saving service for communities in the North who have less access to health care.
Over the years, Val’s contributions have also extended to the Canadian Paraplegic Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, local schools, the GP Soccer Association, and more.
When asked about the involvement of women in community-building and advocacy, Val expresses that it is essential and that insight from diverse perspectives is crucial to understanding and addressing the issues facing women. Drawing from her cancer journey, Val emphasizes the power of shared experiences in fostering understanding and effecting positive changes for the community's well-being; “When you can share your experience, needs and barriers with others then you can move forward and make changes for the betterment of everyone.”
Val's journey has not only shaped her personal growth but has also defined how she wants to spend the rest of her life – helping others and maximizing the time she has.
As part of the '30 Women for 30 Years' campaign, Val's message to future generations of women is to “Remember that life is short, go for what you want and one person can truly make a difference, you never know what impact you have on people”. Every action has the potential to create a positive ripple effect. Val Authenac's legacy is one of kindness, determination, and the belief that each woman possesses the power to make a significant difference in the world.