By Natalie Van Hoozer

As a college freshman, everyone asks me what my plans are for the summer and the coming school year. I am happy to tell them that a large portion of my time spent outside of the classroom will be spent volunteering with NNCCF.

When I first started volunteering at NNCCF, I was a senior in high school looking for somewhere to intern for a school class. Once I visited NNCCF, I knew it was the place for me. I received the “tour” around the office and got to meet all of the lovely staff.

After that welcoming experience, I was put to work preparing for the 2013 Tournament of Hope. I had the opportunity to meet even more kind, generous, and ambitious people through this experience. As a volunteer, I have found that you don’t just sit behind a table and perform one task most of the time at NNCCF; at events you have the opportunity to really interact with the other volunteers and event participants.

Since that time, Poker Tournaments, Radiothons, and other events have come and gone, each event being efficiently organized and run. All of them have been learning opportunities for me, as everyone, staff and otherwise, is always extremely helpful and happy to answer all of my questions.

Most importantly, my own knowledge of childhood cancer has increased, which has helped me become an advocate for the many worthy causes related to it. I now let people know about NNCCF events and fundraisers, direct them to the website, and tell them about the importance of cancer research and clinical trials. My only hope is that people take my information to heart and learn to spread the word about childhood cancer.

The most recent event I volunteered for was the 2015 St. Baldrick’s “Brave the Shave” event. For me, it was the best opportunity I have had to see the community of the Northern Nevada area come together and stand in solidarity with those who have childhood and other cancers. The fact that almost $200,000 dollars was raised just made the experience even better. As a volunteer, one of the aspects I love about the event the most is getting to see people, familiar and new alike, come together despite differences to make a positive impact in the world. My opinions about NNCCF and nonprofit organizations have only been reinforced since this event a few weeks ago. I am still encouraged that one day I will be able to work for a nonprofit organization like NNCCF full time and help to make the difference that I see people at NNCCF making every day.