Belleville Students Volunteer Their Time to Quilt and Care
BELLEVILLE - Treating patients, completing cutting edge research and engaging in academic pursuits all come in a day’s work at the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. The diversity of our responsibilities is essential to our success, but they are linked together through you - our community.
When Bob Gentilli shared his story with us, we were reminded of the links in the chain of treatment, research and community that makes the Carbone Cancer Center a special place. Gentilli wanted to raise awareness for cancer research while doing something unique for a patient.
As a middle school teacher in Belleville, he also saw this as an educational opportunity for his students. With the help of Patches & Petals Quilt shop in Belleville, Mr. Gentilli gathered all of his 90 social studies students together to make a quilt to donate to a needy cancer center patient.
In the process, the children have learned what it means to be part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center Community, and what it means to give back.
We contacted Gentilli to express our gratitude for undertaking this project with his students and to share his experience. Since his students were involved in the project so closely, we decided to feature their words of what the quilt project means to them. Below are just some of the answers we received.
UW Carbone Cancer Center: Tell me about the quilt project. How did it start? Why a quilt? (You have done quilts before, correct?)
Students: Because quilts are made with love. And just the fact that you took time to make a quilt for those people, makes them feel like someone actually does care about them and what they’re going through. And the people, who we are making them for, are for different reasons, less fortunate.
The quilt project is about how we are trying to make a difference in someone’s life who has cancer. We chose a quilt because it is something that you can either choose to use when you go to bed or you can hang it up on a wall so you can look at it. The quilt resembles our faith in the person fighting cancer.
We picked a quilt because it makes you feel warm and cozy. It can help you fight against cancer.
UWCCC: What sparked your idea for this quilt - to donate it to the Carbone Cancer Center?
Students: We have donated to different places through the years and we figured that we should donate to this center to help out the recipients and give them some hope. Our teacher's sister stayed here when she fell ill, so it was an easy decision to donate here.
We have had people of our community go through and who have had cancer. Also some of the students' friends and family members have also been diagnosed.
The fact that we could do something for the greater good - we wanted to help someone who was going through a hard time in their life. We wanted to make someone smile.
UWCCC: How do you relate to the activity?
Students: We have handled it well, because we want to give back to the people of our community. And now that we know that it’s not all about the giving and receiving, its about the emotion and good feeling you get.
We have been moved by the outpouring of support that the rest of student body has given us. Everyone seems to behind us on this project. I think that some kids have had a harder time than others relating to others because some kids have not been impacted by cancer as much as others.
We are having fun with it and we also are motivated to help someone. Some of us have had someone with cancer in our family, so that kind of helps motivate us.
UWCCC: Thinking as a member of an academic institution - and not just a hospital - I can also see this as an example of how outreach/education has evolved over the years as science has become more multidisciplinary in its nature. How do you see this as a purely educational activity? What can the students learn about cancer, cancer treatment, and medical research as a part of the process?
Gentilli: No longer should history be taught from a book - we are the makers of our own history. We need to show the world the power of our kids and what they can do if they truly believe. Academically, this project covers all disciplines in how they problem solve, cooperate, plan, communicate with the media, patients and family members, just to name a few. Through reading the many testimonials at the Carbone Center, it gives them an insight of what is happening to each patient and family member and what is being treated to how it is being treated. It is also my hope that if they ever experience this, they will have a better understanding on how to cope and fight.
Date Published: 12/03/2010