Dec 05, 2022 10:00 AM

Read time: 3 minutes

Author: Avery Shrader

Cheryl Gentle places blankets in a blanket warmer
Cheryl Gentle volunteering in Infusion at Huntsman Cancer Institute

Cheryl Gentle has been a volunteer at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah since 2000, only five years after Jon M. and Karen Huntsman created what is now the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Mountain West.

“It’s been almost nonstop for 22 years,” says Cheryl.

Her reason for volunteering is short and sweet. It’s been one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences Cheryl has had in her life.

Cheryl has a natural gift when it comes to caring for others. After a long career in nursing, Cheryl retired early to be a caregiver to both her father and late husband. While her husband was a patient at the University of Utah hospital, Cheryl began walking across the street to Huntsman Cancer Institute, only one small building at the time, to volunteer. When her husband passed away, Cheryl says she “just kept coming back.”

Cheryl isn’t a stranger to cancer, either. Eight years before she started to volunteer at Huntsman Cancer Institute, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“It felt like this is what I should be doing,” says Cheryl. “Everybody should find a way to give back. There are so many opportunities to volunteer. We’re all so blessed with so many wonderful things in our lives that everybody has a responsibility to give back and help somebody else.”

Chris Moss has worked at Huntsman Cancer Institute for years but has recently moved to a new role as a customer service supervisor. His focus has been to rebuild the volunteer program after it shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On any given day, volunteers can be found around Huntsman Cancer Institute, helping in any way they can. The number of volunteers needed is double what they have currently. Once the hospital’s latest expansion, the Kathryn F. Kirk Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Women’s Cancers, opens, Chris estimates the need for volunteers will continue to grow.

Volunteers can do many different things. Some run the front desk, while others are behind the scenes doing data entry and sorting physical donations. Volunteers in clinics and inpatient areas hand out snacks and warm blankets, collect supplies for the nurses, and can even be found comforting patients.

“Volunteers can bring another level of care. While patients are getting treated medically by doctors and nurses, volunteers can give them support they may not have otherwise,” says Cheryl.

“We can find somewhere for you,” says Chris. “If you want to volunteer, reach out. We can tailor a role to fit you. If you want to give time, we will find something that you will find meaningful.”

Learn more about volunteering at Huntsman Cancer Institute.