Last Friday, we kicked off Volunteer Appreciation Week a bit early by welcoming Support Volunteers and their loved ones to our Annual CHN Volunteer Appreciation Day. This year’s event was hosted by CHN Trustee Kristin Kubas at the Parsippany offices of Wyndham Worldwide.

“We are grateful for the sacrifices our volunteers make to ensure no one faces cancer alone. They are generous with their time, honest about their experiences and absolutely committed to inspiring hope for patients fighting cancer,” said Executive Director Wanda Diak. “Today is one way to express our gratitude and to provide training that will help them continue their vital work.”

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The day began with a welcome – and some inspiring facts from Cynthia Gutierrez-Bernstein, Director of Patient Services. She highlighted the diversity of diagnoses (our volunteers support more than 80 cancer types and subtypes), demographics (our volunteers speak 15 different languages, hail from 30 different states, and span the ages of 30s to 90s) and experience (understanding what it is like to balance a career after a diagnosis, sharing similar interests in health and holistic care, participation in a clinical trial, dealing with multiple cancers and more).

RickAfter a quick group photo and delicious lunch, we were joined by Rick Sawyer, head of Wyndham Worldwide’s Corporate Training division. Using a series of clips from the classic film An Officer and a Gentleman, Rick led a high-energy discussion of the qualities of a hero. From being a leader to a positive attitude, compassion and a selfless focus on helping others, Rick demonstrated how Support Volunteers are heroes every day.

(Our Patient Services Team will be taking a closer look at some of these qualities each day. Click HERE to see their latest posts!)

Feeling inspired, it was time to learn self-care techniques from Jean Marie Rosone of Carol G. Simon Cancer Center.  Laughter, deep breaths and shouts of “Ta-dah!!” filled the room as she taught relaxation methods and demonstrated the power of positive self-talk.

She also reminded the group that maintaining a sunny outlook doesn’t mean being dishonest with ourselves. “It’s good to be positive and to keep a good attitude. But sometimes, you have to crawl under the covers. It’s ok to have the bad feeling. Acknowledge the feeling. Honor the feeling. Then, you can get past it.”

The afternoon ended with phones out and selfies being snapped as Sarah Miretti Cassidy, Director of Marketing & Patient Outreach, gave a presentation on Social Media for Geezers.  “Patients and caregivers discover Cancer Hope Network in a variety of ways – sharing our message with your online communities or telling your story via our eHOPE project helps that happen.” She encouraged volunteers to pass along tips and suggestions by completing a three-question survey at Guest took photos with “ribbons of ribbons” representing each of the cancer types supported by CHN volunteers.

Our guests left the event with brightly-colored pansies and spring flowers, donated by Stony Hill Farms and received portraits provided by Kahlil Maskati.

For more information about becoming a CHN Support Volunteer, click HERE.