Non-profit Spotlight: Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids

Cancer is one of those words that stirs deep emotions. Nearly every person has been impacted by the disease in some way, either personally or along side someone they know and love.  Gilda Radner felt the emotional and physical impacts of cancer first-hand when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986.  However, a significant difference in her journey was when she became part of a cancer support community.  Knowing the benefits of having the support of others who understand and truly care, Gilda wished that anyone dealing with cancer would be able to receive the same kind of support she did.  After her death three years later in 1989, Gilda’s husband, Gene Wilder, and her cancer therapist, Joanna Bull, began to plan a free cancer support community called Gilda’s Club.  The first club opened in 1995 in New York.

Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids began out of a similar expression of love and compassion.  Twink Frey went through her cancer journey without a community and social and emotional support and knew there had to be more.  She was soon joined by two other cancer survivors, Deb Bailey and Susan Smith to change this.  Together they founded Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids and opened their doors in February of 2001.  Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids opened a second Clubhouse in Lowell in September, 2009.  These clubhouses serve the six-county area of Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa. 

“We need Gilda’s Club to fill the gap that exists between the doctors and the patient.  Gilda’s is a great place to get information and support during the entire process.”

~Al Kaczanowski

Gilda’s Club is more than a support group; it is a community of compassion and understanding that travels the cancer journey with everyone impacted by the disease – patient, spouse, children, extended family and friends.  Their entire goal is to make the path that cancer leads you down a little easier.  From the moment you walk through their doors you instantly feel at ease.

“Gilda’s Club has been a tremendous source of support for us as we have adjusted to what this cancer diagnosis means for our family. We feel welcomed, supported and understood here.”

~Kathi, Age 40; Andrew & Megan, Ages 12 & 9

Each month more than 200 support groups, lectures and workshops are offered for free to adults, children and families with program activities also offered in Lowell and Allegan.  Events range from health and fitness classes to formal lectures to casual social gatherings.  Classes and support groups focus on every stage: diagnosis, treatment, grief; for all ages.  The point of each one – you are not alone.  

“Gilda’s Club is a place to come and get support, love and friends. It’s a home away from home that is always open when you need it. The people at Gilda’s Club are there to help you in whatever way they can, and they actually care about every single person who walks into that red door.”

~The Stob Family

It is very easy to get involved with Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids if you would like to help.

  1. Volunteer.  Your help would always be welcome to help with mailings, serve as a program host, assist at events or make phone calls.  Volunteer orientations are available twice a month that will introduce you Gilda’s Club and help you find ways to use your talents.
  2. Financial Support.  Your generous gift will be used to help anyone on a cancer or grief journey.  The non-profit organization exists entirely on donations.  Therefore 100% of every dollar donated stays in the local community.
  3. Share.  Tell everyone you know about the amazing community of support that Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids offers.  This Monday (February 15) Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will be 9 years old.  To celebrate, they are hosting an Anniversary Open House at the Grand Rapids Clubhouse on Monday, February 15 from 9am – 9pm.  Come out for a slice of cake and a tour!      
  4. Empower others.  Awareness Home Funding is proud to partner with Gilda’s Club.  We donate $250 every time we close a home loan.  This program applies to all our home loan programs, purchase or refinance.  If you don’t need a home loan right now, we can still help.  Please refer us to your family, friends and colleagues and together we can help Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. 

 “Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids is extremely grateful to Awareness Home Funding and its customers for donating funds to help families living with cancer and grief in our community. Every single dollar raised stays right here in West Michigan and makes such a difference to our members who come to Gilda’s Club to learn, share and laugh together on their cancer or grief journey. Cancer happens to the whole family and we believe that the social and emotional support for all ages available at Gilda’s Club is as essential as medical treatment. The need for our free program is currently up by 40%, while donations have decreased by 30%. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Awareness Home Funding for helping us close that gap and for recognizing the important need for a Gilda’s Club support program here in West Michigan.”  

~ Lindsey Rodarmer

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3 Responses to “Non-profit Spotlight: Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    Thank you so much Awareness Home Funding for this awesome post!

  2. Debra Sinick Says:

    Sounds like an inspiring story. Support for others is such a huge help when managing any kind of crisis. I compliment all the volunteers for offering their support.

  3. order eprofits Says:

    Great information thanks for getting this in existence for people like me to learn to read.

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