BOSTON (CBS) – Stephanie Lawrence received plenty of assistance when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after the birth of her fourth daughter. Now, she’s joining forces with others around the state to help repay the favor.

Lawrence is the executive director for the Neighbor Brigade, a volunteer-run group that helps bring together community members after an unexpected life change occurs.

“I was completely thrown,” Lawrence said of her cancer diagnosis more than 10 years ago. “I was the primary caregiver for four daughters under the age of four. I had expected this to be an extremely joyous time in my life. Suddenly I was spun into this world of uncertainty.”

While Lawrence battled cancer, neighbors came together to help her with things she needed like meals and housework. Lawrence wanted to provide assistance to others in similar situations, which is why she founded the Lexington chapter of Neighbor Brigade in March 2012.

“In the back of my mind I always thought I have got to pay this forward in some way,” said Lawrence. “This is the type of organization I have always wanted to work with.”

Neighbor Brigade volunteers provide transportation, house cleaning, home cooked meals and other services for those who have been involved in accidents, are victims of house fires or have been diagnosed with cancer.

The organization blossomed to its current total of 35 communities in Massachusetts.

“One of our goals is really to strengthen a community,” said Lawrence. “We’re bringing together circles within a community that might not otherwise have the opportunity to know each other and collaborate.”

For more information on Neighbor Brigade, visit



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