COMMUNITY SERVICE: Kellyann Tobin started volunteering two years ago with SHAREing & CAREing, a nonprofit organization based in Astoria that offers grassroots support services to breast and ovarian cancer patients and their families through counseling, educational forums and advocacy services throughout the city. Formed in 1994, it not only provides breast health outreach, education, support and advocacy services for medically underserved and uninsured women, but has also evolved to serve the emerging needs of cancer survivors of both women and men of all ages.
After first creating biographies and other write-ups for its website, Tobin began doing patient outreach, taking individuals to and from chemotherapy, running errands for patients, doing office work, and whatever else the organization needed from volunteers.
Tobin, a registered nurse, also goes into high schools to educate students to give them to tools to educate their parents about cancer awareness. “It’s never too early to start good health practices,” Tobin said.
Her work as an RN and her mother’s battle with breast cancer in the past inspired her to volunteer with SHAREing & CAREing. “I’ve been blessed in life and it’s time for me to give back. It has been so fulfilling,” Tobin said.
“At this age we should not have anyone die from breast cancer. If it’s caught early enough it doesn’t have to be fatal,” she added.
Tobin notes that SHAREing & CAREing is the only local nonprofit that offers these types of services for free. “They don’t have to be afraid to ask any questions and we’ll be there,” she said.
BACKGROUND: Tobin was born and raised in Astoria and never left. She has been an RN for about four years, specializing in psychiatric, mental health nursing and trauma. Tobin originally worked in set design and special effects, but after taking care of her grandparents, including her grandfather who had end-stage renal disease, and who always said she should become a nurse, she changed fields. After becoming a nurse, she decided she wanted to work in the underserved community of the south Bronx.
FAVORITE MEMORY: One time, Tobin was doing outreach at St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria, where she encountered a student who was scared to do self-breast examinations and to discuss the disease with her mother, until she spoke to her. “[The girl said she] wanted to become a nurse because of me,” Tobin said.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Funding is one of the biggest challenges the organization faces.
“There is so much more we want to do for patients but there are limited resources,” she said. Though the organization wants to go above and beyond with patients, it is difficult when there are so many. “But when you don’t have the finances you figure out a way to do it,” she said.