This month, we wanted to provide a "behind-the-scenes" look at one of the CSC Benjamin Center's extraordinary volunteers! Judy Silk has been volunteering and bringing positive energy to the community for more than a year. Quick fun fact to get us started: Judy started doing stand-up comedy at the age of 55!
To learn more about ways to help, please visit our homepage. New Volunteer Orientation is held every 2nd Tuesday of the month from 3pm with the next one scheduled for January 13, 2015. For more information on volunteering opportunities, please visit the CSC Benjamin Center home page and fill out the volunteer form, here.
Hi Judy! Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What is your favorite YouTube video? What is your day job?
I am from Anaheim, CA. I grew up by Disneyland! We went at least once a year and I worked there in High School. I went to college in northern California, in Santa Cruz.
My favorite YouTube video? It's mean, but also hilarious:
I am a freelance writer and a performer at the Story Salons. I am a writer/storyteller.
How long have you been volunteering with the CSC?
For about a year.
What made you want to get involved?
I was in the caregiver's support group and after my husband passed, I began volunteering and helping give orientations. I have a real fervor about getting the word out about the Community. It's incredible what the offerings are and how incredibly helpful it is to people. When I was in the caregiver's group, I really came in kind of stumbling because I was so afraid of everything that was happening and it helped me ease my fears and cope with everything that I had to cope with.
There were people who really understood what I was going through. Collectively, we all supported each other.
As a volunteer and member, what resources have been particularly useful for you?
I got so much out of the support groups. Other highlights: lunch and learns, open mic night. There are many more activities I would like to participate in, though!
Describe your typical day here at the CSC Benjamin Center?
I volunteer on Friday mornings, and I also lead orientation. Twice a month, I set up a table at the UCLA Cancer Comprehensive Care Center department to provide information about the various support groups offered here at the CSC. There's been a lot of interest in our Kid Support groups, so I provide information about that as well as answer any general questions about our programs.
What has been your favorite experience as a volunteer, so far?
Leading orientation has been my favorite experience. When people first come in, you can sense their hesitation and fear and then they visibly relax when they learn there is somebody out there that can understand the scope of what they are going through. Even though we always say the orientation is not a support group, it almost functions as that - it feels so nice to know that they're going to have some camaraderie as they face the challenges that a cancer diagnosis brings.
I love it when I see familiar faces coming back. When I see people who were in my orientation and they come to yoga or a lunch and learn - that always feels good.
Do you have any advice for prospective volunteers interested in getting involved?
Just jump in! It's a guaranteed gratifying experience. Time spent volunteering is such an important contribution to people who are going through so much stress and anxiety - even the smallest gestures that we make have an impact and you can sense the bit of relief that they get through talking and sharing with you. It feels good to help somebody else.
Finally, if you're thinking about visiting the CSC at all, just remember that: 1) you're not alone, and 2) it's free! Let me state that one more time - all of the programming offered here at the CSC is free! It's a truly wonderful organization.
Thank you to Judy Silk for her continued involvement and support. Next up: staff spotlight! Who will it be? Comment below with names and/or suggestions!