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Vermont cancer patients and their caregivers are receiving one-to-one support from those who have been there before in a unique volunteer program in our state. Started four years ago, Kindred Connections recognized a need for peer support for cancer patients and their caregivers in Vermont. Established by the Vermont Cancer Survivor Network (VCSN), this unique Vermont program’s motto is “We listen, we help.” The goal of Kindred Connections is to match those who are currently dealing with cancer, whether as patients or caregivers, with a volunteer supporter who has faced many of the same challenges and understands.
Kindred Connections started as a small group in Central Vermont and has rapidly grown to include chapters in Franklin and Lamoille Counties, Newport, the Mad River Valley and now Chittenden County.
Kindred Connections volunteers are trained to listen to patients and their families and to provide assistance. Whether it’s to listen to patient and caregiver feelings, worries, concerns, to accompany someone on medical visits, to help them maneuver through the world of cancer treatment, do food shopping, or simply to provide some laughter and friendship during a trying time, Kindred Connections volunteers are there.
Kindred Connections has touched the lives of so many patients and caregivers in Vermont. Laurie from Williamstown said, “I thank God that Beth came into my life. This program is the best thing someone with cancer can do. I wish I was able to do this from the very beginning.”
Family members also praise their support. The wife of a recently diagnosed cancer patient told us: “It was so comforting to know I had someone to call with specific questions about cancer. Being able to hash over the facts and unfamiliar vocabulary of this new world was extremely valuable and eased some of the fear and anxiety.”
The volunteers at Kindred Connections gain as much and far more from each other as they give, according to David Cranmer, VCSN co-founder. Cranmer adds, “Both national and state surveys of cancer survivors indicate that the need of one-to-one help is not being met. We are aiming to fill that need for every Vermont cancer patient and caregiver that asks for it.”
Want to volunteer? Kindred Connections will provide you with training and support to join our growing ranks of peer buddies, helping improve the lives of cancer patients and their families throughout Vermont. Just give us a call. As cancer survivors and caregivers, we’ve learned so much. Sharing that can help others new to the journey.
Kellermann lives in Warren.