As a young girl, I was surrounded by community organizers and volunteers, including my own parents. My mother's aunt was a sorority girl and a member of every women's league and church auxiliary you could think of. Naturally, when I went to college, I chose a helping profession and majored in Social Work and Criminal Justice. Of course my minor study was mass communications. As a child, I often had my mother in tears because my communication was frequent and animated most of the time. I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. because their mission is based on five tenets including "to be of Service to all Mankind". Over the course of my Social Work career, I have worked in many geographical locations and with people from various backgrounds. I've had the opportunity to serve as a direct service practitioner and administrator in the areas of child welfare/protection, early childhood education, intellectual disabilities, collegiate level education, criminal justice system, policy development, research, aging, and medical/hospice. When you book me as your per diem Social Worker to conduct a management audit, staff training, program assessment or evaluation, interactive workshop, to develop a policy manual, directly serve your clients, or as your personal Essential Oil Wellness Advocate, you will get excellent service backed by over 35 years of Social Work experience.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. During my journey toward healing, faith in God was my foundation. Babe and I were new to Nevada and had no family living in the area. Though I was flooded with cards, letters, emails, and telephone calls daily, my day-to-day care fell on Babe's shoulders while he simultaneously served as the Commander of the Naval Air Station for the United States Navy. Family members came to support us. My parents, Horace and Gladys McGraw, were retired so they were present for every surgery. My father-in-law, Rev. Eugene Brannon, made a surprised visit and for a whole week ministered to me while taking me to appointments and to work. My Aunt Beverly Joyce Hines swooped in and took over the household tasks. My sister, Lynne McGraw Gadson, and her sons were with us to celebrate Christmas and this was shortly after I started cancer treatment. My Godparents, Cleo and Bill McCrary, were with us for my whole radiation treatment program.
After the first year of treatment, I began volunteering for several health awareness organizations. With my professional background as a social worker, I have always desired to form a support organization of my own. My breast cancer opportunity gave me the chance to promote wellness of the body, soul, and spirit; and give others a taste of the support I had during my journey. When searching for a name of the organization, I polled several women during a "fun and fellowship gathering". Of all the names submitted, one stood head and shoulders above the rest. The winner of the contest was Cassandra Runnels of Fallon, Nevada. She submitted the name "Revivals (reviving women to better health)". Revivals is comprised of volunteers who are either breast cancer survivors or supporters of survivors. Our volunteers know how difficult it is to navigate through our nation's healthcare system and resources. Revivals' volunteers help the survivor to focus on the importance of celebrating every waking moment, to offer gratitude for the opportunity life brings, and to access support to increase well-being.
Revivals is not a faith-based organization by definition, but Babe and I are Christians and incorporate that faith into our organization’s practices and programs. Though Revivals does not discriminate in the provision of services or the acceptance of volunteers on the basis of race, age, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or national origin, we want our supporters and service recipients to know that our administrative decisions are based on Christian principles.
The year after my treatment began, Babe and I attended a breast cancer survivors' luncheon which was hosted by what was then the Northern Nevada Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It moved and comforted us as it did other attendees. When the luncheon was cancelled the following year, we knew what our mission of Revivals would be: to carry on this wonderful healing experience. We created an annual signature celebration, the Keeping the Faith Breast Cancer Survivors’ Luncheon. The event has special meaning as Table Captains (most of whom are breast cancer survivors) fill each table with survivors, their supporters, and their family. At the Health & Wellness Marketplace, vendors offer free information and goods/services to our guests at reasonable prices. They even offer gifts for us to give away to guests. The event itself is not a fundraiser, but to help promote and support the luncheon, Revivals operates the Give Shop (Something for Others, Something You). Our traveling boutique has an array of handbags, evening bags, jewelry, scarves, sunglasses, wallets, and other accessories. The Give Shop is open at numerous local events or can be booked as a private party. We need your help (Donations, Sponsorships, Table Captains, Vendors, Volunteers, and Give Shop bookings) to continue this wonderful annual wellness celebration and our many other outreach efforts.
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Sincerely in Your Service.