In July 2023, we interviewed three generations of volunteers from the same family: Erna Ludwick, her daughter Sheryl, and her granddaughter Harper. Three women volunteers with hearts of gold, all very sensitive and devoted to people with cancer and their families, whether at the Hope & Cope office, the hospital, or the Wellness Centre.

This is the story of Sheryl.

When they sat at the dinner table, Sheryl’s mother talked to her about her volunteer days at Hope & Cope. “She told me that volunteering gave her a sense of purpose. She felt really useful.”

These conversations had a profound effect on Sheryl, both personally and professionally. “The stories my mother told me had such a big impact on me that I decided to pursue a degree in social work, like her, rather than journalism.”

But first, she volunteered for about a year at Hope & Cope when she was 19. At the time, Hope & Cope was in the E wing of the Jewish General Hospital and she helped patients who were coming in for treatments. 32 years later, she still remembers how important this experience was for her.

“My mentor, Susan Polisuk, invited me into the room where patients were receiving chemotherapy. Her first words were, ‘Be present for the patients.’ I was afraid, but I realized patients were often more afraid than I was. I listened when they talked to me, I brought them something to drink and I was there to establish a bond of trust.”

The importance of the time volunteers give

Sheryl’s experience showed her how important it is to have volunteers on site, day after day, during treatment.

“Our constant presence was a great reassurance to the patients. At the time, I didn’t really realize the positive impact of my presence, but I felt I was making a difference in their lives.”

For her, volunteers pass on the fundamental message of Sheila Kussner, the founder of Hope & Cope: “Whoever you are, the gift of your time, no matter how modest, contributes enormously to the well-being of patients and their families.”

“We’re caregivers today, but who’s to say that one day we won’t be the ones being cared for?”

— Sheryl Ludwick-Stotland

Many volunteers have already been touched by cancer. “We’re caregivers today,” says Sheryl, “but who’s to say that one day we won’t be the ones being cared for? The biggest lesson for me is to give back. A small gesture, a word can make all the difference in the life of someone affected by cancer.”

The life-changing impact of volunteering

Sheryl realizes that Hope & Cope has had a positive impact on all three generations of the Stotland family.

She speaks enthusiastically of the major role played by volunteers. “My mother is a role model for me. She helped so many people when she led support groups and listened to participants share their anxieties, problems and emotions. And my daughter, Harper, was also inspired by her grandmother’s volunteer work.”

She adds that there are many ways to get involved. “You can also make a donation or take part in the events organized by Hope & Cope. Whatever your interests or the time you can spare, your personal contribution is greatly appreciated.”

The future of Hope & Cope for Sheryl

Sheryl has moved and shares her life between the Middle East and the United States. She is co-founder of Forgirlsake, a grassroots movement that brings girls and women together to support and educate girls in need.

When we spoke to her, she was visiting Montreal and had the opportunity to visit the Hope & Cope Cancer Wellness Centre.

“I visited the Wellness Centre recently,” she explains, “and was surprised by the variety of support offered like kinesiology, occupational therapy, everything that might interest young people today.”

“Hope & Cope is an organization that knows how to value the work of its volunteers, whatever their age, culture or commitment.”

— Sheryl Ludwick-Stotland

And that, she believes, is what will secure its future.

“Hope & Cope is an organization that knows how to value the work of its volunteers, whatever their age, culture, or commitment. The organization also knows how to give them the tools they need to carry out their volunteer work.

“For young adults, whatever their level of education, the Wellness Centre can help them discover the strengths and interests that will later help them find their place in society,” she concludes.

Hope & Cope is always looking for new volunteers. If you have the desire to help people with cancer, we invite you to apply today. We look forward to meeting you!

Your Voice
Can Help

Share your cancer journey!

Share this Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

We’ll send you news and informations about us and our partners, but you will not be harassed.