I came to the UCF because I was young, eager and jobless. I was offered an opportunity through AmeriCorps and I snatched it up; work with other young adults, create an army of volunteers and a virtual community of support. It sounded fantastic.
I understood the loss of a young adult life, unexpectedly. I lost my sister, tragically, with no warning on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Yes, the events of my sister’s death are a far cry from what a young adult with cancer experiences, but I felt connected to the mission. Ultimately, emotions are the same, no matter the precipitant.
Joining forces with the UCF seemed like a dream. I stepped into an office of people who felt such strong convictions for the work they performed. Many of my coworkers had an intimate story of their own about cancer. The energy that exists at the UCF is alive.
Riding the momentum of the staff energy I was charged to spread our influence and “good word” to Baltimore City. And so was birthed Young Adult Cancer Support Baltimore, affectionately referred to as YACS B’more. YACS B’more is meant to be a non-traditional support opportunity. A place where young adults affected by cancer can congregate and talk about their experience if they choose. If someone doesn’t want to talk, they can attend our bi-monthly social functions and volunteer. YACS B’more can be what a participant makes it. The beauty of YACS, as I see it, is that it includes everyone, wherever you fall on the coping spectrum.
I started small, meeting young adults at volunteer recruitments events and motivating them to join us in our first event in January 2009.
There seemed to be some chemistry in these events. We certainly had all the right ingredients: complimentary food, drinks, and music! We started to build the mentality, “cancer changes lives, but so do WE!”
Now, it is nearly a year later. Working at the UCF, on YACS B’more, our Peer Mentor Program, the Advisory Team Volunteer Program and wearing many other hats (as you so often do in a small nonprofit) has been a joy. But, as they say, nothing lasts forever…. I will be working my last day at the UCF on December 9th (try to pretend like you will miss my Friday blog on the 10th just a little).
So, I conclude with much gratitude for my time at the UCF. I have learned an exponential amount I could have hardly imagined when I was bounding full speed ahead into my first full time job. A little bit, I feel like a different girl than the one that started at the UCF October of 2009. I think that is supposed to happen. Growth, lessons, all that…
“Where is the celebration?” You might ask when reading this mushy-retrospect of a blog. So, here is my plea. Join us, at the final YACS event hosted by me. I’m a competitive sort of girl and I would like to make this the most successful one yet. We’ll congregate at Mother’s Federal Hill Bar and Grille for a farewell and a celebration of the holidays. Make sure to wear your festive finest. Don’t know what I mean? I can’t ruin the surprise of the absurd, extravagant and bizarre costumes you will see this year, but I can give you a taste of last year:
I hope to see you there. If you want more details about the event, or want to give a curtesy RSVP, you may do so here!
Until then, I will leave you with a big thank you, and (cheesy as it may be!) a “see you later.”