Monday January 2, 2023
Events that unite our retinoblastoma community are vital for mutual support and collaboration to advance care for children, adult survivors, and families. They all happen thanks to dedicated volunteers. In the second of this 2-part post, we explore the many ways volunteers support our work, benefits to both the individual volunteer and community, and how you can help.
Volunteers Kristen, Alex and Jackson helped in many ways at our 2022 Southern California Family Day. Their supply of tasty popcorn was popular at the picnic party, and the children loved being invited to select gifts to keep from the goodie baskets.
In part 1 of this article, we looked at three major events WE C Hope has developed to serve our community. Family Days and Weekends that create space for patients, survivors of all ages, and their families to meet and relax together in mutual support. And One Retinoblastoma World, a conference that unites families, survivors, medical professionals and scientists to advance care.
Our small and dedicated team has created and hosted nine wonderful Family Days and weekends, and three One Rb World meetings since 2017, through some very challenging personal and practical circumstances. While each individual event has been a great success, the small team means we are limited in what we can provide and how many people we can reach across the USA.
When only one or two people are doing most of the organizing, there is little scope to share and delegate tasks. This can become very time-consuming and exhausting for the individual, especially when organizers are located far from the event city.
Volunteering with WE C Hope creates positive change for retinoblastoma, and the whole volunteer team.
A team of 3-4+ volunteers with local knowledge and connections, working together with WE C Hope, will reduce the workload for any one person. This team approach will ensure the best vent possible for the local retinoblastoma community.
Collaborating with our WE C Hope team, volunteers can help with a wide range of activities, including the following:
- Fundraising to support events.
- Sourcing contents for goodie bags.
- Creating and managing the event registration website.
- Providing detailed event information for the registration site and promotion.
- Supporting event promotion to the retinoblastoma community.
- Communicating with registered participants and answering queries.
- Setting up the venue on event day, and clearing up afterwards.
- Hosting the event and ensuring all guests have a positive experience.
- Taking photographs / video to document the event.
- Providing an account of the event for our blog.
- Identifying and booking an appropriate venue.
- Planning and booking/buying food and soft drinks.
- Planning activities for children, and booking relevant resources.
- Where appropriate, planning and securing speakers for educational sessions.
- Identifying an affordable hotel where activities will originate; and setting up a block of rooms for attendees to book.
- Working with the hotel to plan Saturday and Sunday breakfast.
- Planning a Friday evening welcome reception and dinner.
- Planning and booking all-age activities for Saturday and Sunday.
- Planning and booking a special Saturday evening group dinner and activity.
- Where appropriate, planning and securing speakers for educational sessions.
- Identifying an affordable venue where the meeting will take place.
- Setting up a block of hotel rooms for attendees to book.
- Working with the venue to plan event catering.
- Planning and booking AV and IT provision, and livestream.
- Planning a Family Day social activity and evening reception.
- Working with the Program Chair to plan sessions, facilitators and speakers.
- Preparing content for the print program.
- Preparing delegate packs
- Preparing sponsor recognition, signage etc.
- Greeting speakers and funding partners.
- Hosting the registration desk and livestream interactions.
- Timekeeping to ensure the program runs effectively.
- Creating captioning and upload of livestreamed videos after the event.
Former board member, Thomas Reid, and current board members Mark Billings and Lisa Hester read questions and comments sent by livestream viewers around the globe to One Rb World 2017 in Washington D.C.
Our retinoblastoma community has unique needs. Families and survivors who get involved in creating this support will help reduce the strain on a tiny group of people, and ensure events are valuable to everyone.
Event planning with your support:
- Division of roles: we can divide the tasks and responsibilities among team members, allowing people to focus on specific areas, and making the process more efficient.
- More Diversity and Resources: A larger team has a wider range of skills, experiences, perspectives, resources, and connections, adding variety, creativity, interest, and opportunity to the planning process.
- More ideas and solutions: The team with broad perspective and local knowledge offers more diverse approaches to planning and problem-solving.
- More collaboration: A larger team allows for more conversation, creative input, and collaboration, which can be exciting and open up new opportunities.
- Greater capacity: More people working together can handle a larger workload, more easily plan a large event like One Rb World, and increase the potential to host a larger number of regional events.
- Reduced expenses: Local volunteers save money on travel and accommodation. This is particularly valuable in the current climate, where fuel costs are high and airline tickets have increased significantly.
- Better rates: a larger team with local connections has more potential to negotiate favourable rates with suppliers and vendors.
- Pooled resources: A larger team has more capacity to donate supplies and loan resources like equipment that would otherwise be purchased or rented.
- Increased local funding: Volunteers with local connections make events more appealing to potential foundation donors, corporate sponsors, and other partners.
Volunteering has numerous health benefits, including:
- Improved mental health: Research shows that volunteering reduces stress, depression, and anxiety, and increases feelings of well-being and happiness.
- Reduced stress: by providing more energy, support, and resources, sharing responsibilities, and communicating well, teamwork can significantly reduce event planning stress for everyone.
- Improved physical health: some volunteering opportunities involve physical activity that helps to improve fitness. Improved mental health from volunteering also helps to reduce numerous physical effects and symptoms of stress.
- Shared experience: Planning together as a group creates a sense of community and camaraderie, making the experience more enjoyable and rewarding.
- Social connections and friendship: volunteering helps build social connections and support, which can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Teamwork is a social experience, creating space for bonding and lasting relationships.
- Improved cognitive function: Volunteering can stimulate the mind and help to improve cognitive skills like negotiation, decision-making, and problem-solving.
- Increased life satisfaction: Volunteering creates a sense of purpose and meaning. Planning a successful event together can be a source of individual and shared pride and accomplishment, and contentment.
Event planner Marissa, and other volunteers, had fun with these giant gold balloons during set-up for One Rb World in Washington D.C.
- Mid-Atlantic – Washington D.C. area: March 10-12. Register Now!
- Southern California: Fall 2023.
- Midwest: Chicago area.
- Rocky Mountain Region: Denver area.
- Southeast Region: Florida.
- North West Region: Bay area, California.
- October 2023: Ottawa, Canada. In collaboration with the Canadian Retinoblastoma Society. To be confirmed in February.
- October 2024: Honolulu, Hawaii (confirmed). In collaboration with the Rb Australia & New Zealand Association. Likely dates: Tues 15 – Thurs 17 October.
Our hands are full with planning the Mid-Atlantic Weekend, planning and fundraising for One Rb World Hawaii, and co-planning One Rb World in Ottawa.
With more volunteers, we could host more events, reaching more families and survivors who desperately need support.
Can You Help?
Volunteers make our work possible! Please give the gift of your time and skills, and help us change the lives of children with eye cancer, survivors, and their families.
You can help in many different ways, as we describe above. How you volunteer will depend on your interests and skills, and the amount of time you can give.
How much time you will be expected to give depends on the type of volunteer role you choose, and the number of volunteers working on the project. For example, you can offer several hours to help with a single fundraiser, a few hours weekly for a set time period to help with a specific event, or ongoing support of our activities.
Many people have commitments and interests that prevent regular volunteering. We are flexible about the time you offer, and we are happy to explore the options with you, to help you decide where you can volunteer most effectively within your limits.
We will provide the resources you need to fulfil your volunteer role. We can also reimburse out-of-pocket travel expenses for volunteers, on presentation of receipts.
Where training is relevant to your role, we will provide this free of charge, and you will receive regular supervision – an informal chat to discuss how you are getting on, and any questions or concerns you may have.
Get Involved Today
Your gift of time and skills will be a rewarding investment and deeply valued by WE C Hope and our retinoblastoma community. Please contact us to discuss the possibilities. We would love to chat with you about our current needs and opportunities that fit your interests, skills and schedule.
Please contact Marissa Gonzalez to find out more. marissa(at)wechope.org
The reason we volunteer! Connecting our community builds more support, understanding, and advocacy; and ultimately better care and outcomes for everyone affected by retinoblastoma.
You May Also Like to Read
Part 1 of this volunteering article focused on Family Days and the One Rb World conference, planned and hosted entirely by volunteers.
About the Author
Abby’s father was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma in Kenya in 1946. Abby was also born with cancer in both eyes. She has an artificial eye and limited vision in her left eye that is now failing due to late effects of radiotherapy in infancy.
Abby studied geography at university, with emphasis on development in sub-Saharan Africa. She co-founded WE C Hope with Brenda Gallie, responding to the needs of one child and the desire to help many in developing countries. After receiving many requests for help from American families and adult survivors, she co-founded the US chapter to bring hope and encourage action across the country.
Abby enjoys listening to audio books, creative writing, open water swimming and long country walks.