By Lorraine Yeomans
Front Desk and Member Relations, Williamson County
When Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee opened its first satellite location in May 2018 in Williamson County, we didn’t quite know what to expect. What we did know was we wanted to provide the same free cancer support we provide in our Nashville clubhouse, in the same warm and welcoming way, from our new location. So, prior to opening day, we arranged new furniture, hung pictures, added comfy throws, bought snacks and drinks, brought in resource materials, and did our very best to create a comfortable, home-like space for our members. When our first new member arrived, we had to contain ourselves for fear we would overwhelm her with our excitement. We were finally up and running in Williamson County! That was eight months ago and, since that very first member entered through our red door, we’ve continued to grow our membership base, expand our program offerings, and create community.
As the person at the front desk, I am often the first contact for those coming in or calling. I’ve been thrilled to provide information to so many people from this area, all of whom are curious about what Gilda’s Club has to offer. While we knew there was a need in Williamson County and surrounding areas, we weren’t sure how we would be received. But since that first member, interest has grown each day. The trickle that started during our first weeks has turned into a steady stream. We have a lot of drop-in visitors eager to find out what goes on behind the red door. Many of our new members have told me they would not have found their way to Gilda’s Club if we had not opened in Franklin. They are just so happy we are here – and we’re so happy they found us.
The number of volunteers and community partners supporting our Williamson County location is growing, too. We started from scratch with very few volunteers from this area. Now, we have a growing team helping us with community outreach, as class and workshop facilitators, as greeters, and more. We’re beginning to receive more support from local businesses as well, which is so vital.
Not knowing what our members in Williamson County would be interested in, we began with just a few offerings on our program calendar each week. We waited to see what people would be interested in and responded to their needs, adding more and more events, activities, and support groups each month. We now have a robust schedule of monthly offerings that continues to expand and evolve. We’ve added more art classes, nutrition workshops, and movement classes. Tuesday evenings are getting especially busy with groups, a monthly yoga class, and a Kids and Teen Night.
My very favorite part of what we do at Gilda’s Club Middle Tennessee is foster community. It has been wonderful witnessing our members creating community in our new location. Williamson County being in some ways still a “small town,” people coming in often find they are already connected in some way. But whether that’s true or not, it has been – and continues to be – wonderful to watch as connections are made, friendships are formed, and members help and lean on one another.
Have you visited our Williamson County location? If not, I welcome you to do so. I’ll be the one smiling from the front desk.