This entry was written by Linda Oken. Linda has served as a volunteer at LBBC for over 10 years.
Shortly after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, a friend told me to look up LBBC for information and help. This friend had previously worked with Jean Sachs, who is CEO of LBBC. Immediately, I went to the website and learned about the organization. Faced with all those decisions and all that I had to learn, I thought this place would be just what I needed – and it was located only 10 minutes from my house. What a find!
I called them then went right over. Sitting in the LBBC library, I found a wealth of useful information. While I sat at the library table pouring over books and brochures, several members of the staff greeted me warmly and sat down with me to offer help and answer my questions. The atmosphere was friendly and supportive.
Several months later, after I was all finished with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, I called them again and offered my help. They took me up on my offer, and it’s been a wonderful relationship over the years.
My first assignment was to staff a table at a local health fair. What a kick it was to chat with people, hand out brochures, and offer helpful information. Next I got to stuff envelopes for a mailing. For this I got a master’s degree? But the best part of that job was sitting around a table with a group of fascinating women and hearing their stories, while we all worked together to send out an important mailing.
One of the early long-term projects I took on was updating the resource notebook for the helpline volunteers. I made a zillion phone calls to gather information about prostheses, wigs, financial services, counseling, support groups and other services available to people with breast cancer. That project was a fascinating learning experience for me, and a big help to the caring people who spend long hours on the telephone with the many people who call LBBC’s helpline.
Since I had been a computer consultant before I retired, LBBC has given me countless projects to do on the computer over the years. Most of them I do while working on the system in the office, but a few of them I was able to do on my home-computer.
For a couple of years I went in one day a week and took on whatever task they had set aside for me. They honored me by making me the inaugural recipient of the Anne Klein Volunteer Award, named for the volunteer who had come in every week for several years.
Now, more than 10 years since I started volunteering at LBBC, I look back on a wide variety of volunteer activities that have utilized my skills and interests. Knowing that I am able to help others is so gratifying. They keep thanking me for my help, but I feel that I am the winner here!
My parents taught me from a young age to give back, to pitch in, to help others. Many times growing up I heard the saying: “Much is expected from those people who have been given much.” LBBC gave me so much. I hope that I have been able to give back to others through my volunteer efforts.
For more information about voluteering at LBBC or at LBBC external programs, please contact Lisa Black (Lisa@lbbc.org), LBBC’s Helpline and Volunteer Manager.