Four years ago my niece, Angie, was diagnosed with acute leukemia. A friend volunteered at an organization called Satchels of Caring. They provided a satchel to Angie. It was filled with therapeutic and inspirational items for women with cancer, including a soft turban, headscarf, journal, bookmark, inspiration message, relaxation music CD, hand/body creams, lip balm and other items. Angie not only used many of the items, but also wrote in the journal daily. Angie’s son Aaron was only 7 when she died and his grandparents are now raising him. They used to read to him from the journal and Aaron now reads it himself. In it Angie told Aaron her dream and hopes for him, when she realized that she would not be there to tell him herself.
Since then I have been volunteering at Satchels of Caring. On 3 occasions I have been honored to lead groups of BNY Mellon employees to provide services helping the Satchels of Caring Foundation. I was amazed the first time I signed up to lead a group in December 2010. Within a few hours of the email being sent, there were over 40 employees who contacted me that wanted to volunteer. The foundation has room for about 30. But Satchels of Caring set-up a second day in order to accommodate all the volunteers. Everyone at the foundation is a volunteer also, so they had to make arrangements to get off at their work to be there to guide the volunteers. In the end there were 60 volunteers that attended one of the 2 volunteer days in December 2010. Activities completed ranged from selecting the fabrics and trim for the kit to make the satchels, cutting fabrics, filling the finished satchels with the items mentioned above, selecting and sewing buttons on satchels, making tags, decorating the journal covers and other activities to help in completing the satchels. I arranged for another day in May 2011 and again Satchels of Caring foundation had to set-up a second day in order to accommodate all the BNY Mellon volunteers. I like decorating the journals because I know how much Angie used hers.
So many that have volunteered are cancer survivors. Many volunteers told me that they wanted to make going through this difficult time, just a little easier for others. Volunteering not only gives cancer survivors the opportunity to give back to someone who is going through the same experience, but also gave those of us that know someone with cancer, the same opportunity. When the director thanked the group at the end of the day, there were tears in her eyes and in many of the volunteers as well.