By Allison Yonker, LMSW
What a year. For all the pivots, adjustments, and shuffling we’ve all had to do this year, at least one thing has remained the same. Gilda’s Club continues to create community, so no one has to face cancer alone. When we made the decision to suspend in-person activities at the Clubhouse – just for a few weeks, we thought – we presumed we’d offer groups via Zoom as a temporary measure and then pick right back up where we left off. Now here we are, eight months later, and while we haven’t been able to be physically present with members and volunteers in our Clubhouse since March, the Gilda’s Club team has been hard at work, providing opportunities for anyone impacted by cancer to make meaningful connections, access necessary resources, and share their collective wisdom…virtually. The result has been nothing short of magical.
While we wondered how people would continue to support each other when they couldn’t be in the same physical space, our members showed us exactly how to do it. We’ve seen the deep connections made by folks in online support groups, workshops, and educational opportunities. We’ve witnessed members logging on from their couches, beds, and chemo chairs. We’ve heard of members, previously unknown to each other, connecting at a workshop and deciding to schedule their own Zoom time to work on watercolor paintings together.
While we wondered how we’d introduce new members into our community and familiarize them with a Clubhouse they’d never seen, our members and volunteers showed us exactly how to do that, too. They’ve opened their hearts just as they did when they were in the Clubhouse. While we desperately miss sharing in-person laughter, tears, and hugs, the deep connections made between members continue to occur. Our mission continues to be fulfilled – and members need this community now more than ever, as they face unique circumstances that make this time so isolating and stressful. So, while this time has been full of challenges, each time we see the connections and community-building between members, we’re also reminded that it’s had its share of magic. And, for that, our hearts are full.