This is National Volunteer Week (April 6 – 12), a great opportunity to thank the many people who volunteer their services here at Winship in order to make life better for cancer patients and their families.
On any given day, there may be 20 or more trained Winship volunteers helping patients and staff in the clinics, waiting rooms, treatment areas and Patient and Family Resource Center. You can spot them escorting people around the building, offering snacks or companionship to patients in treatment, playing the piano in the lobby or a cello in the hallway. They also perform many tasks behind the scenes, such as doing clerical work, keeping the resource center stocked, and providing encouragement and support through the Peer Partners program.
These Winship ambassadors can make a world of difference in a cancer patient’s day. Our goal is to give patients the very best care possible, and volunteers help us do that. Winship’s volunteer program was birthed a little over ten years ago when this building first opened. It started with twelve volunteers; today, there are 150 dedicated people who work on-site. And those original twelve are still here and serve as the Volunteer Board, which directs volunteer activities and resources. Today’s volunteer staff includes former patients, patient family members, students and many others who want to give back.
DaVida Lee-Williams manages Guest & Volunteer Services on a day-to-day basis, as well for special events like the Winship Win the Fight 5K and the Celebration of Living. She rallied over 280 for the 2013 Winship 5K and they made a real difference in how people experienced the race. The fact is, we couldn’t do these activities without the devoted and enthusiastic work of volunteers. Lee-Williams says volunteers also gain from the experience.
“Volunteering is an opportunity to interact, create a sense of family with Winship patients and staff, and gain an understanding that people with cancer are more than just their disease,” Lee-Williams points out.
Volunteer services continue to grow. Last fall, a new Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) Buddy Program was launched in order to help bone marrow transplant patients get through the preparatory tests and paperwork that have to be done in the two or three days prior to hospital check-in.
During this National Volunteer Week, I want to say thank you to the many individuals who give of their time, their talents and their hearts to Winship. Volunteers are making a difference here and we’re grateful!
About Dr. Curran:
Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, was appointed Executive Director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in 2009. He joined Emory in January 2008, as the Lawrence W. Davis Professor and Chairman of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology. He also serves as Group Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a National Cancer Institute-funded cooperative group, a position he has held since 1997. Curran has been named a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Chair in Cancer Research as well as a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.
Dr. Curran has been a principal investigator on over thirty National Cancer Institute-supported grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors. He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma and for leading the randomized trial which defined the best therapeutic approach to patients with locally advanced lung cancer. He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and is a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE). Dr. Curran is the only radiation oncologist to have ever served as Director of a National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center.
Dr. Curran is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Dr. Curran ranked among the top ten principal investigators in terms of National Cancer Institute grant awards in 2013, and was first among investigators in Georgia, and first among cancer center directors.