Posts Tagged ‘Gilda’s Club’

One Really Good Day

January 6, 2011

Yesterday was awesome!  Let me start by saying it wasn’t due to the sun shining on newly fallen snow or that I won the lottery.  (Just for the record I didn’t even play.)  Yesterday was a truly great day because I was able to visit three area non-profits with gifts of support to help them continue their efforts.  For extra measure I even threw in a visit to a new friend who is organizing an upcoming event you really should attend.

The reason for these visits was the result of the AHF Charity Gridiron Challenge game we have been playing this NFL season.  Every week we encouraged friends, family, co-workers and supporters of all non-profits to register and play by picking the teams they felt would win their respective games.  The player with the most correct picks received a $50 gift card.  The non-profit organization they were playing for received $250 from Awareness.  While the game created some friendly competition and interesting office dynamics, the most important part was the ability to support some great organizations. 

The day started with a brief stop to see Jay Starkey, Executive Director at In The Image.  This is an organization that connects families in need with donated clothing, furniture, appliances and more.  Every year they also help area at-risk kids get a new pair of shoes for school.  Last year they were able to help nearly 9,000 kids and have a goal of helping 12,000 kids this year.  Jay, his staff and many more friends played with great enthusiasm all season long with a desire to win “at least just one week”.  That was just what they did the last week of the regular season thanks to a long-time friend of Jay’s.  $250 to In The Image means helping 25 kids with new shoes.  This day was getting brighter as I began to see what these organizations can do with a relatively few bucks.

I then made my way across town to Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.  If you have not heard about all the excitement going on there lately where have you been?  Gilda’s Club is a place where people of all ages gather to learn about cancer, share experiences with others, and have the opportunity to laugh along the way.  This March Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids will celebrate 10 years of keeping that signature red door open and warmly welcoming all who want to enter with Laugh Fest.  This is the first annual 10 day event that is sure to tickle every funny bone you have. 

I was extremely honored to deliver to them as our grand prize winner, a check for $2500.  It was fun to watch the faces of three weekly winners who also happen to be on the staff of Gilda’s Club beam with pride at their successful efforts.  However, it quickly sank in that this money also meant they had more work to do, more lives to help, more smiles to share.  Incidentally I also had another contribution for them.  You see the real difference in the Awareness business is that we make a contribution of $250 with every home loan we close; and a client had  just asked us to help Gilda’s Club as a result of their loan.  That is one part of my job that will never grow old.

I took a slight detour from delivering checks from the Charity Gridiron Challenge game to deliver one for the next event we are sponsoring.  The Grandville/Byron Center Varsity Hockey team is hosting their second annual charity game.  This year they are raising funds and awareness of Juvenile Diabetes by supporting JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation).  A team mom decided to chair the event this year since her son, a senior on the team, has type 1 diabetes.  (If you missed his story in our January e-newsletter, sign up to receive it for free.)  The charity game is January 29 at the Georgetown Ice Arena.  Visit our Facebook page for all the details under the Events tab.

By now I wondered if there was anything to top my excitement.  I had already brightened the day of 3 groups and had one more stop to make – Harbor House Ministries.  Peg Driesenga is the Executive Director of a Christian residence for people with severe mental and physical disabilities.  Like Gilda’s Club, Harbor House is not a place of dimmed lights and hushed tones.  The rooms are open and bright with an air of energy and excitement.  Laughter and conversations drift from all around.  Life is in full swing here.

Peg showed me The Cove, a new activity and physical therapy building on their property.  They have a personal goal of remaining debt free and our contribution was another partner making sure that stayed a reality.  I was really impressed by the love and compassion the staff at Harbor House possesses to care for their residents.  Hopefully we can bring you their full story sometime.

This was one really good day.  And to think it all started with a simple game of picking football teams.  I guess the bottom line is that it’s not about how big the act of kindness is, but that you do act.  It’s not about the value of the check, but the value of the intention behind it.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day, what are you doing to make a difference with yours?

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Non-profit Spotlight: Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids

February 11, 2010

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