No one has to face cancer alone. Gilda’s Club South Florida offers free programs for men, women, teens, and children as well as their families and friends who have been touched by cancer. Their innovative program is an essential complement to medical care, providing support groups, healthy lifestyle workshops, educational programs, and social activities, all free of charge to their over 3,000 members.
I learned about Gilda’s Club over 10 years ago. My Aunt and I were very close-she was a second mother to me. She was a member at a Gilda’s Club in New York during her battle with Melanoma. She would talk to me about the support and friends she made there and how it really helped her stay positive and get through a very difficult time. I went with her to that clubhouse and we also visited the original in SoHo. At the time, I was living in Fort Lauderdale and registered to be a volunteer. Over the past 11 years I have remained an active volunteer supporting Gilda’s Club to honor her memory. It was so special to me that both organizations so close to my heart could cross paths today.
Our Samaritans365 club welcomed Megan Scott, LMHC and Alexx Mazer. They came to our meeting to educate the students on the services provided at Gilda’s Club South Florida. Megan, Program Manager, began with a brief discussion about Cancer. Several students shared their personal experiences of family members who have had Cancer. They also asked questions about the disease, treatment, and Gilda’s Club. Some even wanted to know other ways they can be involved with this non-profit. The children were each given a notebook, bracelet and stuffed Sparkle dog (which was Gilda’s dog) to take home.
The children learned that Gilda’s Club is actually located in a warm, welcoming, historical home in Fort Lauderdale. It, like every other clubhouse, has the signature red door. Inside are the staff offices, a living room, kitchen, yoga room, and other rooms to hold gatherings. It is located on a serene property with views of the Tarpon River. There is also a large outdoor space with a beautiful garden, where peacocks wander, adding to the charm of the property. It is also one of the only homes in South Florida that has a basement! Housed in the basement is Noogieland, which is a part of Gilda’s Club dedicated to providing support to the children whose lives have been touched by cancer. Here they can play and laugh with other children who can relate to what they’re going through. They have healthy opportunities to express their emotions through art and play.
Our Samaritans held a school-wide drive and the generous families of Del Prado Elementary collected their wish-list items to donate to Noogieland. These donations go towards helping the kids have a good time and experience the joys of just being a kid while they’re in the clubhouse. We presented the speakers with the collected donations and a certificate of appreciation.
During our meeting, the children decorated cardboard heart boxes that will be used at the annual Red Door Luncheon at St. Andrews Country Club, in Boca Raton on February 11, 2016. This year’s theme, “Love & Laughter”, pays homage to Gilda Radner the brilliant comedian and her husband, Gene Wilder, who founded the charity on love for his wife after she lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Given the proximity to Valentine’s Day, the heart boxes will serve not only as decoration, but will house slips of paper detailing raffle items.
The luncheon each year is open to the public and profits go directly to funding the free services provided by Gilda’s Club.
For more information, please visit www.gildasclubsouthflorida.org