'Rise Above' Sings Praises Of Harwich's Sarah Swain

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Local Music , local artist , local film

Sarah Swain.

HARWICH – Local photographer, author and documentary filmmaker Kim Roderiques has done it again.
Roderiques is known for her photography in such books as “I Am of Cape Cod,” “I Am of Chatham,” “Dogs on Cape Cod” and others. She is also known for her documentaries, made with local cinematographer Geoffrey Bassett. “Pirouettes, Pliés, and Pets” features the relationship between dancers and animals, and “The Way Home,” celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Animal Rescue League. Now Roderiques and Bassett have created a new documentary about a kindred spirit. “Rise Above” tells the story of another local star in both the arts and the community, musician and Cape Wellness Collaborative founder and CEO Sarah Swain of Harwich.
Motivated and inspired by the untimely loss of her mother to cancer, lifelong musician Swain created the Cape Cod Women's Music Festival in 2012 to benefit Cape Cod families struggling with cancer. In 2014, she founded the Cape Wellness Collaborative, an organization which works with local wellness professionals to provide free integrative wellness therapies to those facing cancer on Cape Cod and the Islands. In 2020, Swain was awarded the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Community Service Hero Award, and in 2021 she was chosen as a Human Rights Honoree on behalf of the Church Women United of Cape Cod. 
“One of the many things I love about Cape Wellness Collaborative,” Swain said, “is that it not only helps people facing cancer and their families, it empowers everyone involved – from donors, to board members, to volunteers, to our practitioners – to make a tangible difference right here in our community.”
Roderiques first met Swain when she visited her Harwich home to take photos of her goats.
“She said, 'Hi, I'm Sarah,' and she had me at hello,” Roderiques said. “She has that magnanimous smile and I just fell in love with her. Everyone falls in love with her. She is so outstanding and kind. She exudes presence and kindness and strength. I took my photos and went home, and I thought this woman is unbelievable.”
Roderiques had heard about Swain's accomplishments surrounding the founding of the Cape Wellness Collaborative, and she wanted to help. She returned to Rockland Trust, the organization which had provided a grant for her documentary film about the Animal Rescue League, “The Way Home,” and asked for another grant to make a documentary film about Swain and all she has done for her community, specifically Cape Cod families struggling with cancer. When the grant was approved, Roderiques once again approached Bassett, her cinematographer for “The Way Home.” Soon Bassett was also on board.
“I don't think I've ever worked with someone as passionate as Kim for creative projects,” Bassett said. “People that know her know that she is a force of nature. I’ve learned from her that sometimes the number one thing you can do is to not doubt what you're doing. Pick up a phone and call and ask. She has a vision for what these projects can be, and I think we both have a passion to make our films as good as they can possibly be.”
The title, “Rise Above,” is the title of a song written by local musician and Cape Cod Women's Music Festival performer Sarah Burrill.
“Sarah Swain needed an anthem for Cape Wellness Collaborative, so Sarah Burrill wrote it,” Roderiques explained. “The lyrics are perfect. It starts, 'One little word and your world's upside down,' and that's exactly what the families and individuals Cape Wellness Collaborative helps are experiencing.”
Bassett hopes that “Rise Above” brings attention to what Swain has created, and he hopes it will inspire others to pursue their own passions as well.
“Sarah Swain is an amazing person,” Bassett said, “but what makes the story great is that she decided to pursue the Cape Cod Women's Music Festival and Cape Wellness Collaborative when she didn't know how to organize the events, and she didn't know how to organize a non-profit. She reached out to others for help, and in doing so created these wonderful things that benefit so many people on Cape Cod and make their lives better.”
Swain said the film project came as a total surprise, but after some initial reluctance about being on camera and sharing her personal story, a very welcome one.
“The film that Kim and Geoff created will help raise awareness and funds, which in turn enables Cape Wellness Collaborative to serve even more of our friends and neighbors on their cancer journey,” Swain said.
Roderiques said that in the seven years since Swain founded Cape Wellness Collaborative, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds. growing by leaps and bounds. Cape Cod Healthcare has embraced the Cape Wellness Collaborative and the benefits it provides for people experiencing one of the most difficult challenges of their lives.
“When someone goes in and is diagnosed with cancer, they are now immediately given a booklet about Cape Wellness Collaborative along with a $250 gift card for integrative therapy,” Roderiques said. “It's the most wonderful thing!”
A screening of “Rise Above” at the Chatham Orpheum Theater is planned for Tuesday, Dec. 7, along with a panel discussion. The event's proceeds will support Cape Wellness Collaborative. More details will be available as that date approaches. For more information about Cape Wellness Collaborative, visit capewellness.org. For more about the Cape Cod Women's Music Festival, visit capecodwomensmusicfestival.com. For more about Kim Roderiques, including her photographs, books and documentary films, visit kimroderiques.com.