Two sisters, two states, two affiliates: Aimee Sherman and Michele Wood don’t let geography get in the way of their fight to end pancreatic cancer. They volunteer because they lost their dad to the disease in 2007 just six months after he was diagnosed.
Wood lives in Massachusetts and is the Media Relations Chair for the Boston Affiliate. Sherman lives in New Hampshire and is the Community Advocate. Both women are also members of the Volunteer Advisory Council, a group of PanCAN volunteers that provides feedback and advice to the organization with regard to the Community Engagement program, which is centered on volunteer recruitment and engagement.
“It’s wonderful to have my sister volunteering for the same cause, especially since we both share the same passion for ending this disease,” Wood said. “Losing our dad was very sudden and unexpected. Volunteering is a great outlet for my sadness.”
It was Wood who originally found PanCAN and reached out to her sister to get her involved.
“In all honesty, my initial drive to volunteer came from my sister,” Sherman recalled. “I heard her talk about the organization’s Advocacy Day, but just having had a baby, there was no way I could go. And besides, I thought, ‘What is one person from New Hampshire going to be able to do?’ But her persistence got me curious.”
Sherman ended up going to Advocacy Day with Wood and it ultimately inspired her to volunteer.
“Volunteering has brought us closer together,” Sherman said. “I’ve now been to six Advocacy Days and had just over five years as a Community Advocate.”
Being in two states has been advantageous for the sisters who say that they’re able to expand their reach in the Northeast and form strategic alliances.
“The benefit of being in separate states is that we can broaden our reach,” Wood said. “In several cases we’ve been able to leverage our healthcare contacts to get patients seen by the right doctors that PanCAN knows, trusts and has an established relationship with. It allows other families like ours, spread out over New England, to really connect and volunteer where it makes sense for them.”
In addition to opening up a new line of communication for patients who are caregivers in the region, Sherman added that being in separate states allows for volunteer collaboration.
“We’re able to talk about media pitching, fundraising events, advocacy and most importantly, volunteer engagement,” she said. “Since my state doesn’t have an affiliate, I get inspiration from Michele on what her affiliate is doing. I participate in PurpleStride Boston and bring volunteers from my area with me. We start talking about the Boston events in my meetings as soon as we hear about them. We definitely bring the two states closer together.”
In addition to raising awareness for pancreatic cancer in the Northeast, Wood and Sherman were out in California for a leadership training this past month and also participated in a half marathon with other PanCAN volunteers.
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