This article was originally published on Causecast.org. Over the last few months, Causecast has been highlighting exceptional volunteers from our network of organizations. This month, we're proud to feature Cima Kalmanson of Starlight Children's Foundation.
Starlight Children's Foundation is a national nonprofit that provides support for seriously ill children and their families. As a volunteer, Cima Kalmanson spends time with the children at events put on by the organization.
How did you originally get involved in volunteering for Starlight?
In 3rd grade, my family doctor confirmed that I had some health problems and I required surgery. Being in the hospital was scary; no TV, no toys, and I felt alone! My classmates sent handmade cards to me, which I posted on the wall in my hospital room. My family came to visit but I really felt so isolated, sad and afraid. I forgot how to smile. Years later, I began to volunteer for many different charities. I got involved with Starlight when I saw an advertisement for volunteers, went to a group meeting and then became more involved with all of the different events, fundraising, auctions, kids activities - whatever they needed.
What's been your most memorable moment?
During a Christmas event back in 1985, I met a young boy who had cancer; he came from a big family. I was sitting on his bed making up a story about his favorite treat, ice cream. He was so happy to hear my story that I called it Chris' Favorite Flavors. After about 15 minutes, his sisters and parents came in and listened as well; we all were laughing and having fun. Chris loved ice cream, but couldn't have any since he was having chemo.
I said 'See you soon,' and he gave me a big hug and a kiss. He whispered in my ear, 'I know I am going to die very soon, but my mommy doesn't know. Please,' he asked, 'ask the nurse to bring my family ice cream.' I held my tears and said, 'I will ask for you.'
Sadly, two weeks later, he died. When we were at the hospital, the nurse who took care of him showed me a picture he drew two days before he died. It was a giant ice cream cone smiling, and it said "Thank you Cima for the best Ice Cream story I ever heard, I could taste all the flavors it was YUMMY."
I just cried.
How has your life changed through public service?
It truly has been so enriched, knowing whatever you do can truly change someone's life, or make them feel better, even if it's short term seeing everyone smile through pain and sorrow. Giving can open your heart and mind.
I feel very lucky to have the chance to continue to reach people through my efforts, by being the best volunteer I can.
I am the person I am today - good, kind, and giving - because of organizations like Starlight. They shine and I get to share the sky as a small star with them.