As a former teacher, educational consultant and elementary principal, Nancy Evans is used to keeping busy and to giving back. She started volunteering at the OSUCCC – James within a few months of retiring from education six years ago.
“I’m the food cart lady, which I really enjoy,” said Nancy. While bringing food, water or nutritional drinks to patients having radiation therapy, Nancy has a chance to converse with patients and their family members or caregivers. She said most patients are there for appointments on set days of the week, so she will see the same patients regularly for about six weeks. “When they’re done, you’re really pleased and excited for them,” Nancy said.
Nancy also spends one day a week as a concierge, guiding patients and visitors around the OSUCCC – James campus. In the summer, she adds a few extra hours, helping tend the JamesCare for Life Garden of Hope. “I get to see people who come back each year, who talk about how they’re doing and share recipes,” Nancy said. Nancy also helps out at occasional special events around the hospital.
Nancy, who is 63 years old, says she celebrated her “15th birthday” this year. That’s because she passed the 15-year mark in her breast cancer survivorship. And she has returned to the OSUCCC – James to give back to other patients and survivors.
Volunteering comes naturally to Nancy. “My parents were great role models,” she said. Though both are now deceased, they were very active in their local community.
When Nancy signed up to help at the OSUCCC – James, she filled out her volunteer application and met with the head of volunteer services, who took her on a tour of the facilities and asked about her past work and skills to learn the most comfortable fit for Nancy. “There’s a lot of support, guidance and training,” Nancy said.
“Everyone is very positive and pleasant,” Nancy added. “And they’re supportive of their volunteers.” The experience has been so positive that Nancy has brought along a couple of friends, who now donate their time.
Of course, Nancy doesn’t only volunteer for the smiles and thanks from the patients. She feels like the patients give back to her as well.
“I look at folks, and I wonder where they find the strength and courage to stay positive and keep moving forward,” she said. “I have learned so much about courage, strength and grace.”