By Harriet Schiftan, MSW, MAJCS
President and CEO
It’s hard to believe that Gilda’s Club has officially been a part of the Williamson County community for more than a year and a half. We’ve been offering our evidence-based cancer support program – all five components, including support, education, healthy lifestyle, expressive arts, and resources – from our satellite location in Franklin for over 18 months!
We are so proud of all that has been accomplished, primarily that so many individuals with cancer and their families, friends and co-workers have become Gilda’s Club members who are reaping the benefits of free social and emotional support and being part of the Gilda’s Club community.
Here’s a more detailed look at some of what we’ve accomplished – along with some information on areas where we could use your help as we continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of Williamson County:
While the entire Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee staff and board support the Williamson County clubhouse, located in the Provision Proton Therapy Center, our greatest strength is the wonderful Gilda’s “Wilco” team. Program Director Felice Apolinsky, LCSW, has been hands-on from Day 1, working to ensure the location has the signature warmth, feel and high-quality cancer support program that our members and supporters have come to expect. Felice is on-site in Williamson County three days a week, while also serving as Program Director of our Nashville location.
Member Relations team member Lorraine Yeomans has welcomed each and every new and returning member to the Williamson County location, as well as managed the location’s systems from the very first day the red door opened. She keeps Wilco running like a well-oiled machine. A longtime resident of Williamson county, Lorraine is a 24/7 ambassador for Gilda’s Club with local media, healthcare partners, area businesses and potential funders.
Program team member Deanna Candeloro, LPC-MHSP(t), has provided – and continues to provide – direct service to members by way of Information Sessions, Customized Membership Plans, support groups and a variety of other member events, activities and interactions.
On the numbers side of things, I can share that while our Williamson County location is only open three days a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays), we have served many. In our first 18 months:
• 5,047 individuals visited Gilda’s Club in Williamson County.
• 1,379 support group, counseling, health coaching and parent coaching sessions were offered.
• 1,807 members participated in our healthy lifestyle and movement classes.
And in March, we will launch our Williamson County Advisory Council, a group of 17 local business leaders, volunteers, healthcare partners, and other connectors who will help make introductions, build relationships and create awareness, with the overall goal of developing new revenue streams to support our growing program.
What have we learned from our new growth during these first 18 months?
• While the response to our program from new members has grown consistently, it will take additional time to increase community awareness and support.
• Opening a satellite in Williamson County is not only serving Williamson County and Franklin residents, but also those from Rutherford and Maury counties.
• Ample parking and ease of access is a favorite feature of our new location.
• Our need is growing. With additional revenue our newest location could be open five days a week!
How can you help? If you know of a potential donor, grant opportunity, local business partner, corporate sponsorship opportunity, or individual with a cancer connection that might be interested in supporting our program, please let us know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hayley Levy at email@example.com. We also welcome the opportunity to speak to groups to create awareness about Gilda’s Club!