Volunteers support cancer patients and staff at Houston-area locations
A small but mighty team of volunteers plays a vital role in supporting cancer patients and caregivers at MD Anderson’s locations in League City, The Woodlands, Sugar Land and West Houston.
Rashida Jinnah knows MD Anderson inside and out. After all, she worked here for 23 years before retiring in 2008.
“In my role as a nutrition support specialist, I interacted with patients every day,” she says. “The connection was so rewarding. I didn’t want to give that up."
It turns out she didn’t have to. Jinnah became a volunteer at MD Anderson in Sugar Land, just a few minutes from her home.
“The number of patients in Sugar Land is small, compared to MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center Campus. Most come back every week,” says Jinnah. “This gives volunteers more time to spend with patients and staff. You develop comfortable and rewarding relationships with them.”
Every volunteer has a story
MD Anderson’s Texas Medical Center Campus has more than 1,000 volunteers. The cancer center’s four suburban locations have 26 altogether. This small but dedicated crew serves MD Anderson’s locations in Sugar Land, The Woodlands, West Houston and League City. They’re a diverse group that includes cancer caregivers, cancer survivors, military veterans, college students and retirees – each with their own unique reason for volunteering.
Larisha Sellers became a volunteer after her mother and father died of cancer.
“Losing my parents motivated me to give back to patients who are fighting cancer today,” says Sellers, a military veteran who volunteers at MD Anderson League City.
You develop comfortable and rewarding relationships.
Volunteers provide a link between campuses for patients
Volunteers typically work one four-hour shift each week. They talk with patients and caregivers, serve snacks and beverages, and pass out warm blankets.
Volunteers also provide patients with information about support services, including social work, dietary consulting, educational literature and groups, and resources such as myCancerConnection – MD Anderson’s cancer support community that offers free, one-on-one support by matching cancer patients with trained survivor and caregiver volunteers.
“Volunteers are the connection between each patient at the Houston-area locations and the support services located on the Texas Medical Center Campus,” says Mary Jackson, a director in MD Anderson’s Volunteer Services and Merchandising department. “Our volunteer program is a consistent strength of our multidisciplinary approach to patient care.”
Volunteers share patients’ perspectives
Because they have close and candid interactions with patients, volunteers often are called upon to represent the patients’ perspective. For example, when MD Anderson The Woodlands was transitioning to its new building, which opened last fall, a volunteer served on the planning committee and discussed patients’ needs and preferences for the new location.
“Patients and volunteers alike report that our Houston-area locations feel like relaxed, neighborly spaces,” Jackson says. “This further promotes the relationship-building that is so important to patients and volunteers alike.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.