April 1, 2012
Glenda Hawkins, Administrative Support
Volunteering with Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is a great way to experience our warm and welcoming culture. The GCTC volunteers—the best on earth, by the way—very often speak of the generosity, caring and fun they experience here. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer and—like this month’s featured volunteer Glenda Hawkins—you’d like to make a real difference in someone’s life, click here.
How did you come to volunteer with Gilda’s Club Twin Cities?
I’m a breast cancer survivor. I had been doing a lot of volunteer work in my daughter’s school, but when my daughter graduated, GCTC Board Member Eva Stevens (with whom my husband works) said to me, “So Glenda, what are you going to be doing now?” That was almost two years ago.
Did you know about Gilda’s Club prior to Eva telling you about it?
I did not. But when I learned about it, I decided this would be a really good thing. I wish it would have been around when I was diagnosed. My kids and my husband could have used it as well. They didn’t have any place to go. I got support from groups— but my husband and my kids didn’t really have anywhere. Husbands are not going to reach out to people at work and talk about their wife’s breast cancer. And our son—a junior in high school — seemed more upset than I thought he would be. He had nobody to talk to. Having people to talk to helps tremendously, knowing that you’re not alone in this journey.
In your administrative role, you talk to a lot of the people calling GCTC looking for support. What kinds of things do you hear from them?
Most of them just want to find somebody who has gone through what they’re going through and who can talk to them about it. They want support groups, educational information, access to medical personnel who might speak to them. Some need financial help and, unfortunately, we aren’t in a position to help them with that, but we keep lists of other organizations in the Metro area who offer different kinds of services, and I connect them with a social worker who volunteers with GCTC so she can help them find help.
One call was from a woman whose mother lived in New York and had ovarian cancer. And this woman was just looking for somebody that could talk to her about it. She was very disappointed that we weren’t open yet. But when I found out that her mother lived in New York and that she went there frequently to visit her, I looked up where the other Gilda’s Clubs were and it turned out there was one about 10 miles from where her mom lived. So I got her linked up with that one so when she was out there, she could go to that one. That was a really great feeling; that even though we’re not open we got help for that person somewhere she could use it.
What do you tell people when they ask “Why do we need a Gilda’s Club in the Twin Cities”?
I tell them it’s cancer support for anybody who’s been touched by cancer; the patient, the family, their friends, anyone—that we’ll offer support groups, education groups and that it’s a place where you can go and find other people. When you go to other cities, you talk to people who have used a Gilda’s Club and they think it’s wonderful. We know it would be a great thing here. We really need to get the doors open as soon as we can.