By Teri Johnson, Senior Vice President, Volunteer Engagement at LLS | April, 2021

When you commit time and talent to a nonprofit’s mission — no matter how you choose to get involved — you become a volunteer, and the impact of your efforts runs far deeper than the specific project or task you work on. For example, volunteers don’t always realize that the hours they spent stocking shelves meant hundreds of families would have food for two weeks. Or that the time spent fundraising not only raised critical mission dollars but also added value upward of $1,250 to the organization’s bottom line. When you consider that many corporate partners, philanthropists, and foundations want to know the impact of volunteerism before sponsoring, granting, or donating, it’s clear just how much your volunteer time matters.

Your volunteer time creates a powerful ripple effect that touches countless lives and sustains vital work in our communities. At LLS, we see this first-hand every day.

This past year has challenged us all as we’ve had to adapt to a new normal. For patients and caregivers, the pandemic has brought added distress, new financial worries, and loneliness on top of navigating their cancer care and treatments. The pandemic could have stopped LLS in our tracks, but it didn’t. Together, we forged ahead with our mission because patients and families couldn’t wait for our help. And while the uncertainty continues today, here’s what I do know.

Since the earliest days of the pandemic, volunteers stood in partnership with our staff and expressed unwavering support for other volunteers, our patients, families, and our communities. Even though we couldn’t be in the same room, attend events together, celebrate successes, and give high-fives, LLS volunteers showed up. You rolled up your sleeves to provide critical support for patients, raise your voices for equal access to care, fundraise in support of research, and so much more. Our volunteers dedicated more than 200,000 hours from March 2020 to April 2021 — an incredible feat during challenging times.

To put this into perspective, the value of that time is roughly equivalent to the following activities:

  • 108,800 free educational booklets for blood cancer patients and healthcare professionals
  • 54,000 translational services for a Specialist to communicate with non-English speaking patients
  • 18,133 critical lab supplies for LLS-funded researchers
  • 10,880 financial assistance for eligible blood cancer patients through our Urgent Need Program

When blood cancer patients and families needed us more than ever, LLS volunteers, alongside our staff, were unstoppable. Across the country, volunteers support every facet of our organization — from bolstering our regions’ efforts to raising critical funds to providing direct support to patients and families and advocating for policy changes at the state and federal level. That’s why LLS volunteers are truly superheroes. And your passion, time, and talent are superpowers in helping LLS beat blood cancers. In fact, while our bedrooms became offices and our kitchens became schools, and we all learned to unlock new skills, LLS volunteers helped us achieve remarkable progress across our mission.

Because of you, our dedicated volunteers:

  • Blood cancer patients and caregivers received the support they needed to cope during the pandemic. LLS Information Specialists responded to 25,000 inquiries from patients and caregivers last year alone — a 26% increase over last year!
  • LLS helped advance more than 85 percent of FDA-approved blood cancer treatments since 2017, bringing safer, more effective options to patients. Among these approvals: the first-ever CAR T-cell immunotherapies; innovative targeted therapies that attack blood cancer cells precisely while sparing healthy cells; and new treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), ending a 40-year drought in therapeutic advances for the disease.
  • Patients will be protected from surprise medical bills. Patients receive surprise medical bills through no fault of their own. In many cases, they can be impossible to avoid. Last year alone, LLS volunteer advocates met with 100 members of Congress and sent thousands of letters to legislators to end this practice. They listened. In December 2020, Congress reached a bipartisan agreement to hold patients harmless from surprise medical bills, so patients can focus on what matters most: getting healthy.
  • We reimagined our fundraising to unite people across the country in rallying behind our mission in new ways. From coast to coast, you made a difference virtually to ensure LLS could continue its lifesaving mission.

Because of you, LLS provided free patient services and education, continued groundbreaking research across the globe, and championed patient-focused legislation. Every facet of our mission works in harmony to find cures and help patients access the care they need to survive and thrive. Whatever your volunteerism looked like this year and whatever aspect of our work you touched, you made a profound and lasting impact. And thanks to your dedication and commitment, the horizon looks bright. Volunteers are getting involved with LLS in new ways, from micro-volunteering to advisory committees to internships. By generously giving your time and talent, you are helping us chart a path toward cures.

This National Volunteer Week, all of us at LLS want to thank you for everything you do to make a difference in the lives of blood cancer patients and their families. Your impact goes far beyond the projects completed, funds raised, and policies advanced. Because of you, we’re helping to save lives and drive meaningful progress that brings us closer to a future without blood cancers.

We hope you share our uplifting video with your fellow volunteers. For more National Volunteer Week inspiration, follow our @LLSusa social channels as we create a gratitude movement all week long. And remember, because of you, we will one day live in a world without blood cancers!

To explore volunteer opportunities with LLS or get the most out of your volunteer experience, please visit Volunteers in Action (VIA) today.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.