“I loved meeting and making a connection with volunteers, because there are so many special people that want to give back to Gillette,” says Nancy Thomas, who was Gillette Children’s Volunteer Services Coordinator from 2010 to 2019. More than 200 volunteers served over 10,000 hours at Gillette in the past year. Those volunteers ranged from 16 to 94 years of age, proving that one doesn’t outgrow a love for giving.
Nancy is transitioning into retirement now, but fondly recalls her time at Gillette and the relationships she formed with volunteers and patients over the years. “I’m going to miss being fully engaged with the volunteers. Forming friendships with others will be missed. Within my role I’m also able to navigate and help families, and I’ll miss that piece too. Just being a quiet voice for them or a gentle hand – just making a difference in their day. I’m going to miss that.”
One of the volunteers Nancy worked with was Rebecca Sowada, who has been serving Gillette with her time, love and energy for 23 years. “From day one, I loved the culture here. The attitude that everyone has is very positive. The kids here face a lot of challenges, but it’s never like, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ It’s more like, ‘Let’s figure out how to make that work for you.’ And I loved that. I found that very inspiring,” says Rebecca. The children at Gillette, who Rebecca refers to as superheroes, have given her a new perspective. “I work with deadlines and that kind of pressure. Then I come here and get to spend time with the kids. They’ve been in appointments, procedures, and therapies all day long, and then I come in and we do fun stuff together. So I can deal with the stress of work because that’s not as important as being here and spending time with these kids.”
Rebecca and Nancy have a mutual admiration for each other. Each encouraged the other to continue serving the children and families of Gillette. Rebecca says, “Every time I saw Nancy she had a smile on her face for me. That made me feel so welcomed and appreciated and made me want to keep volunteering too.”
Nancy plans to continue to serve others during retirement as she volunteers for numerous organizations. She says that she learned to value volunteer work from her parents, who were great role models for her. She will take memories from Gillette with her in this next chapter. The selflessness of those she met here at Gillette have touched her heart.
“Every volunteer feels so blessed to be able to come in and share time with Gillette families. They know that it’s a gift. They are giving of themselves and their time, but what they receive, they all tell me, ‘I’m gaining so much more than what I’m giving.’ It’s a wonderful place,” says Nancy with a smile.
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