Social activities at Gilda’s Club provide an opportunity for camaraderie and fun

The community room was filled with the sounds of tinkling utensils and laughter as members and their guests enjoyed an Italian feast. “Festa Italia,” the always-popular social event, returned on March 7th for the first time since the pandemic hit. One of the attendees shared that it was, “A room full of smiles and delicious food. Wonderful evening!”

Volunteers from the Italian-American Women’s Club prepare for Festa Italia

It’s one of several social events held throughout the year at Gilda’s Club Madison. Opportunities to socialize with others who are also touched by cancer is a cornerstone of Gilda’s Club programming. “Socials are a part of how we do things because we recognize that, for a lot of people, doing a social activity is a heavy lift when they’re dealing with a cancer diagnosis,” explains Kirsten Norslien, Gilda’s Club Program Director.

“They belong”

Those facing a cancer diagnosis may face barriers like cost, crowds, or simply not feeling like they fit in when they’re in active treatment. “Socials at Gilda’s Club give people the opportunity to gather in a supportive, safe space,” Kirsten shares. “They belong.”

Another popular social event that returned this year was “A Night of Music.” The event, hosted by the UW-Madison Music Therapy Association, featured a variety of performances from pop to folk to classical.

A string quartet from the UW-Madison Music Therapy Association performs during “A Night of Music”

Back in January, Gilda’s Club volunteers helped put on a night of chili and Bingo at the clubhouse. Members loved the cozy night of food and fun. One commented, “It was a great event. Not only good chili/food, but meeting other people was a pleasure plus the bingo added to the fun. I know Gilda was smiling.”

Opportunities for joy and healing

Socials can take place in many forms, whether that be live music, an ice cream social, a visit to the zoo, or hiking. “Music, art, nature, and community are all healing,” Kirsten shares. As Kirsten explains, all of these activities are about, “Adding some joy to your life. Everybody needs joy in their lives.”

We strive to offer at least one social each month that brings together different segments of our community. Our monthly men’s social is growing in popularity while our Noogie Fest celebration each October has always been a family favorite. The Gilda’s Spring Social is April 17th, where attendees can gather in the clubhouse backyard for ukulele music, activities, art, games, snacks, character appearances from A Moment of Magic, and fun for all ages. To join in one of these events, visit our program calendar.

Thank you to all of the volunteers and donors who make our social events possible. You help make sure that no one faces cancer alone!

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