Camy Pfister is a sophomore who has a passion for helping children. Every Thursday, she goes downtown and works with kids who either have cancer or have someone in their family who is suffering from it. For a while, they will play games or play with toys, and then they all do an activity that helps the children learn coping skills without being so upfront about it. When asked how she felt while volunteering with them and after, Camy responded with: “I’m not really sure how to describe it. It all depends on the day and what the kids say. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted feeling because you realize how positive they are while dealing with something so difficult. Other times you see how much pain they are feeling and how challenging it is for them to express their thoughts and emotions. Those are the days when it’s a lot harder.” The organization, Gilda’s Club, is a nonprofit that provides free emotional healthcare to individuals of all ages on any kind of cancer journey or those grieving the death of someone in their life due to any cause.
Camy is so grateful that this opportunity has come into her life because she feels extremely fortunate for her health and the chance to improve the lives of these children. “It definitely hits close to home because I’ve dealt with cancer in my family, but it’s really helped me realize how blessed I am for what I have.” She loves working with kids but recommends volunteering at Gilda’s Club even to those who don’t work as well with children. There are many different things to do. Currently, she is working with the little kids, which is called “Noogieland”, but there are also other support groups people can be trained for and the later volunteer in. They have lots of different options depending on what the volunteer likes to do, and what types of people they like to work with.
Gilda’s Club is an amazing organization and Camy would recommend it to anyone at Eastern who is interested. “You definitely have to be careful not to carry around everything that you hear. Sometimes you end the night and feel some sort of burden, so I think it’s best for someone who can handle that well. After a group, you can talk with social workers to get everything off your chest, which definitely has helped a lot of other volunteers that I know. But overall, I would definitely recommend it.”
Gilda’s Club hosts many various events, for example, they host a knitting club every Monday from 9:30-10:30, and they are hosting a breast cancer art workshop on January 2. Camy just started volunteering here in the beginning of November and hasn’t yet attended one of these events, but it is something she is definitely looking forward to attending in the future. Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is one of the largest and busiest of their 42 various locations in North America. They run entirely on charitable donations and currently serve more than 10,000 individuals a year at its locations in Grand Rapids and Lowell, in various schools, and in community centers.