Erica Sokol: Spirit of Gainesville nominee
Published: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:33 p.m.
Erica was a student at the University of Florida when she approached me about creating a volunteer program for children with cancer at Shands Children's Hospital approximately 2 ½ years ago. She understood the needs of the children who often were inpatient for long periods of time. Some of the children were receiving chemotherapy and others bone marrow transplants.
Category: Community Service
About Erica Sokol
Occupation: Child Life Intern
Years in Gainesville: 4
Erica recruited volunteers from the University and provided them with training. She scheduled the volunteers so that the cancer unit often had volunteers to spend time with the children. They engaged in fund raising events so the Footprints program had money to purchase supplies and gifts. Erica and the volunteers provided fun activities that served as a diversion from the painful and uncomfortable procedures the children had to endure. Her team designed end of chemotherapy parties to help the children and their families celebrate the milestones. Her team also celebrated birthdays making each child feel they were truly special. Erica also organized her volunteers to hold a memorial service for a child that otherwise would not have had one. On one occasion we had a mother who needed to move but had no car to do so. Erica organized her volunteers to bring their vehicles and load up boxes to help this mother relocate. She made sure we had volunteers who could speak Spanish and Vietnamese to help those families with limited English speaking skills. These volunteers helped family's feel much less isolated. Erica and her volunteers cooked many breakfasts for the families at Ronald McDonald House because she understood this community need. Throughout the years Footprints has provided volunteer time for our children,
Erica was always able to remain focused on what was in the best interest for each child. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for this young woman and all that she has accomplished. She can see what is needed and creates a positive solution on the behalf of improving the lives of children. Erica has the gift of organization and a genuine devotion to children. In addition to thousands of hours of volunteer time with the Footprints Program she has also:
Bone Marrow Registration Drive Coordinator, Gainesville, FL
President of Footprints Buddy and Support Program, Gainesville, FL
Child Life Specialist Volunteer Assistant Shands Pediatric Specialty Clinic, Gainesville, FL
Submitted by Diane Howard