• Volunteer Profiles

    Volunteer turns downtime into an opportunity to help

    john-grenon.jpgJohn Grenon 

    John Grenon describes himself as "the weird one" among Dana-Farber volunteers. He's different from his counterparts, who usually volunteer because they are former patients or the family member of a patient. Grenon's involvement came about in a totally different way.

    The New Bedford resident found himself at Dana-Farber last November when he started working as a personal driver. At first, Grenon would sit in the lobby during the long wait time and "collect dust."

    "Sitting in the lobby, I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on. I started reading about the volunteer opportunities, saw firsthand the work they were doing, and thought to myself, 'I can do that,'" he says.

    Now Grenon, 61, who worked in the seafood industry for 20 years buying fish off boats to resell before being laid off about two years ago, volunteers as often as he can. He helps out wherever needed, but mainly spends his time in the Eleanor and Maxwell Blum Patient and Family Resource Center. There he compiles a book of clippings from newspapers and magazines that help newly diagnosed patients get information on their conditions, and serves as a general resource for patients and families.

    "You see people at their best and their worst. Some are happy, some sad or angry, and patients go through all these emotions. Sometimes it's just about being an ear," says Grenon.

    Grenon's transition from cod to cancer was untraditional, but he says he couldn't be happier. When asked what he enjoys most about volunteering at Dana-Farber, Grenon doesn't hesitate: "the people."

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