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Getting a lot out of giving

Annual Report - Winter 2014

By Will Fitzgerald


Gloria Ayala walked into a hospital room and found a mother pacing while her daughter lay in bed. When Ayala was greeted with a big hug, she realized the experience was what being an MD Anderson volunteer was all about.

Gloria Ayala
Photographer: Wyatt McSpadden

“Watching a family member battle this disease is difficult because their loved ones often feel helpless,” Ayala says. “I knew right away this patient just needed someone to talk with, so I told her that she’s not alone.”

Even before her own breast cancer diagnosis five years ago, Ayala was an 
MD Anderson volunteer, splitting time between gift shop and coffee cart duties. These days she can be found working as a floor host and manning the book cart (turns out people really enjoy celebrity news magazines), both of which allow for a lot of patient interaction.

When she first started volunteering, co-workers and friends couldn’t understand why Ayala chose MD Anderson. They knew people with cancer and understood the realities of the disease. They thought it would be sad and depressing, she recalls.

“I kept telling everyone it’s different than they imagine because MD Anderson is a place of hope,” Ayala says. “People are so grateful to see someone like me, who once walked in their shoes, continuing with life.”

While each person has his or her own reasons for joining the volunteer ranks, all are united in one regard: serving patients and families.

As Ayala enjoys saying: It’s about treating patients like your own family.

Patient services and support

The spirit of giving also is manifested in the broad range of programs supported through Volunteer Services, including:

Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support (VEPS): Provides funding for patient-oriented programs and special amenities not covered by traditional sources, such as patient education materials, caregiver support programs, and patient conferences and special events.

  • In 2013, VEPS had an endowment corpus of $2,838,112.
  • $188,364 in VEPS funds were disbursed to 27 institutional programs.

Anderson Network:

This program offers hope and understanding to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from those who have been there. Most programs are available to all cancer patients and caregivers, no matter where they receive treatment.

  • 124,799 Hospitality Center visitors
  • 1,309 patient/caregiver one-on-one support/ matches
  • 865 attended PIKNIC (Partners in Knowledge, News in Cancer), an educational forum on the Texas Medical Center campus and at the regional care centers
  • 2,028 active patient/caregiver members

The Beauty/Barber Shop:

Located on Floor 6 of the Main Building, the shop offers services such as shampoos, scalp treatments, haircuts, shaves, head coverings and wigs to patients at no charge.

  • 6,624 patients served
  • 8,069 complimentary hats, scarves and wigs distributed
Request an Appointment

Make a difference

Your gift to MD Anderson makes a difference in the lives of cancer patients by supporting innovative patient care, research, education and prevention programs. You can Donate Now or learn more at myGiving to MD Anderson.

© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center