We’re honoring National Volunteer Week 2015 with a Q&A with Caryn Kaplan, who’s volunteered for LBBC for 17 years. Digital Media Specialist Josh Fernandez interviewed Caryn about her interest in LBBC, what she loves most about volunteering and why she thinks others should volunteer.
Josh: You’re a longtime volunteer for LBBC. Why do you choose to donate your time to us?
Caryn: When I was first diagnosed 17 years ago, I used to crawl into my bedroom after chemotherapy and go online to look for any type of information that could help. I stumbled upon LBBC. The resources, even back in their infancy, were the best I had found. I knew it was a trusted source of information, and I knew this was the organization for me.
I started attending community meetings first and then I just felt a connection to the organization and the people who work there. I knew the fit was there. I knew it very the very beginning. Their arms were always outstretched and they always had an answer to the questions I had. Volunteering seemed like the least I could do.
Josh: What are some of your favorite activities to do as an LBBC volunteer?
Caryn: I do many activities for LBBC. Each one has its own special meaning to me. I enjoy coming into the office and helping during office hours. I enjoy attending events and representing LBBC in speaking engagements at places like Fox Chase Cancer Center. I spoke for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) for a few years.
I love doing the Breast Cancer Helpline. I love being an empathetic listener for the callers and giving them resources. Some need to really get ‘it’ out of their system. Others just need resources and a place to turn. I just did the Hear My Voice : Metastatic Breast Cancer Outreach Volunteer Program, which is going to be a great program – it’s already in action as we speak. It’s a wonderful way to spread the word about the need for research and creating more public awareness of what metastatic breast cancer means. I like any type of advocacy work I can do, especially if it’s for LBBC.
I love doing anything I can do for LBBC. I can’t pay it forward enough for what the organization has done for me.
Josh: Tell us about an experience you had while volunteering for LBBC that made you realize you were making a difference.
Caryn: I really think that by being a part of the Helpline, I really make a difference. Especially if I take on a match call. Speaking in the Hear My Voice training and moderating for LBBC’s programs or conferences – these opportunities give me the chance to talk about my story and how LBBC has helped. I feel that if I’ve at least touched once person with my story, it makes a difference.
Josh: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not volunteering for LBBC?
Caryn: Live my life to the fullest. I go out to lunch, visit friends and I am a very active member in the community that I live in. We have a lot of committees, one of which had an event during last weekend’s Annual Conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer. I had to run out of there because an event I hosted in my home was starting.
At night, I try to get some normalcy – play cards, hang out with my husband. It was our 30th anniversary on Tuesday. I’m also active with my breast cancer support group.
Josh: It’s National Volunteer Week 2015. Why should people volunteer (for LBBC or in general)?
Caryn: To me, volunteering is giving back that makes me feel good. I’m helping people, which is something I’m happy to be able to do, whether it’s for an organization or a community. That sense really stems from me wanting to help people and pay it forward for all those who helped me. LBBC’s Manager of Community Engagement Lynn Folkman and I talked about how there are many different ways you can volunteer – from helping around a home or office, to making someone a meal. Every bit makes a difference.
Josh: What would you tell someone who is thinking about volunteering for us?
Caryn: Let me tell you about an experience I had: One of the girls in my support group saw me walk in the group meeting with my LBBC purple tote bag and all of the LBBC literature I brought to share with others. She looked at the stuff I had and said to me, “I really want to become involved with an organization in the same way that you have. How can I get involved with LBBC?” I told her there are many volunteer opportunities and that there’s something for everyone.
I went over the list of things some volunteers do – Helpline, outreach, share their stories on the blog, helping at events, stuffing event bags, stuffing envelopes – when I mentioned envelopes, she stopped me and said, “I’m great at stuffing envelopes!” Now she’s going to start volunteering.
And that’s what’s so special about LBBC: there’s a lid for every pot. And anything you can do to help LBBC and the people they serve counts.
What do you love most about volunteering? Share in the comments below.
Interested in volunteering for LBBC volunteer? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about upcoming opportunities.