What inspired you to get involved?
I have an older sister who died of breast cancer. She was already in stage III when she was diagnosed on February 1998 and she passed away on April 1999. I was still in the Philippines then. I took care of her and I saw how much she suffered while she fought hard to live. I remember I was at her bedside holding her hand when she drew her last breath. She was not just my sister but also my best friend and the greatest influence in my life. She was the most generous soul I have ever known and I remember she told me that you don’t have to have much to help others. And since her death, I have been trying to support, in my own little way, charitable organizations focused on fighting cancer.
What’s your favorite part about being a CareBOX volunteer?
I have been a regular donor for St. Jude Research Hospital for about three years and a supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness. But volunteering for CareBOX Program seems to me more meaningful because you get the chance to meet the patients and the caregivers. Reaching out to them personally, reminds you to be more compassionate towards others, especially those in need.
What have you learned about yourself as a result of your volunteer experience?
I realized that my adversity is nothing compared to others who are suffering from this illness. It was a shame to complain. On my first delivery of the CareBOXes, I met the sister/caregiver of a lung cancer patient, who received the supplies. I learned that she also has breast cancer. And I was in awe because in spite of this, she is still in good spirits. Somehow, I drew strength from her.
What would you tell others who are considering being of service in their community?
I think, most of the people have it in their hearts, the willingness to help but they just don’t know how and when to start. I would tell them that there are many ways to be of service in the community. You can donate, volunteer or as simple as helping spread the word. They can get involved with organizations that they really believe and have an interest in. It could be animal shelters or any charitable institutions. And trust me, there’s nothing more rewarding than giving back and making a difference in the lives of people (and even animals).
-Maria, Volunteer CareDRIVER and CareSUPPORTER