Volunteer Spotlight: Nancy Solomon and Norm MacDonald
“The Cancer Support Community is valuable to people dealing with cancer, and I’ve been there. Whatever we can do to make it easier for people going through it right now, that’s what we want to do.”
It was May 31, 2013. The day before the annual Cancer Survivors Picnic at the Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/Santa Barbara. In less than 24 hours, hundreds of people would be coming for an afternoon of barbecue, music, and dancing.
There was just one problem – and it was a problem that threatened to ruin the entire event. The one toilet in the men’s restroom was broken, and if the staff couldn’t fix it, they would have to cancel the picnic.
The folks at CscVvsb knew exactly who to call: Norm and Nancy. If superheroes were real, Norm and Nancy would be CscVvsb’s own caped crusaders. They work together to help CscVvsb with all kinds of tasks, from replacing light bulbs to transporting items to storage…and, as it turns out, fixing toilets.
Norm and Nancy made it happen, as they always do. They found a plumbing supply store that was about to close, got a new tank, and installed it. The picnic was a resounding success – Norm and Nancy’s selfless dedication had once again ensured that CscVvsb could keep providing hope to people fighting cancer.
Why do these two volunteers keep giving back to CscVvsb and expecting nothing in return? For starters, that’s just who they are. Volunteering has always been important to them. Why CscVvsb? Because, years ago, the organization helped them through one of the toughest parts of their lives.
Both Norm and Nancy first came to CscVvsb when Norm’s wife Kathy and Nancy’s husband Bob were both fighting cancer. Norm and Nancy attended a cancer caregiver support group, and Kathy and Bob were in groups for people with cancer. Nancy’s husband passed away in 2000, and Nancy maintained a friendship with Norm and Kathy. Nancy even helped transport Kathy to her monthly chemotherapy treatments when Norm’s job required him to be out of state.
“The Cancer Support Community is a haven for people like us who have been blindsided by cancer,” says Nancy. “It enabled me to figure out how to go on after Bob died. Without the Cancer Support Community my life would not have the same quality that it has had.”
After Kathy passed away in 2005, Norm was committed to keep giving back to the place that had helped both he and Kathy in so many ways. “When you go to the Cancer Support Community you’re kind of lost – you don’t know where to turn, and the people there just help you out, do what needs to be done, and you get a lot of peace,” says Norm. “It’s a shelter in the storm.”
Norm offered to help out any way he could, and the staff got in the habit of calling him for all sorts of handy man jobs, which he dutifully did with his neighbor and friend, Leonard Chapman. Around CscVvsb they were affectionately known as The Honey-Do Boys.
Nancy and Norm kept up their friendship, which eventually turned into something more, and they were married in October of 2012. Between the two of them they have five children and six grandchildren, who they love to visit and spend quality time with. “We have a very nice blended family,” says Nancy.
Nancy has been volunteering for CscVvsb since 2008, helping with marketing, special events, and assisting Norm and Leonard with their handyman jobs. The couple have also “adopted” the Garden of Hope at CscVvsb’s Westlake Village location, working year-round to maintain and repair it as needed. “We get tremendous satisfaction being behind the scenes and enabling the staff to do what they do,” says Nancy. “When you volunteer you get way more than you give. We will keep doing it until we have no more energy to do it.”
November and December will be exceptionally busy times for Norm and Nancy. This is Nancy’s fourth year as Logistics Chair for the Holiday Homes Tour, CscVvsb’s largest fundraiser. (“Now I’m Norm’s boss,” jokes Nancy.) Such an undertaking involves an endless supply of odd jobs – which Norm and Nancy show up for, dependably, day after day.
And when Holiday Homes Tour is over, there will still be plenty of work to do, and Norm and Nancy will keep showing up for us when we need them – because that’s what superheroes do.
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