Keys to Freedom

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When I first joined Expect Miracles Foundation’s (EMF) Samfund Grants team as a Program
Assistant in early March of this year, I had no idea we would shortly be plunged into a global
pandemic that would rapidly change life as we knew it. Despite the challenges of starting a new
job shortly before work (and life!) went remote, I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to be a
part of such an outstanding, caring, and giving organization. I’ve learned more about myself, and
the world, these past seven months than in any other position I’ve held. I’ve learned how much I
previously took my own health for granted. My health has never interrupted life– that’s why it’s
so incredibly humbling working with a community of people who have had their lives
interrupted, in the most abrupt and destabilizing way.

Picture yourself at 23. Maybe you’re due to graduate soon, and it seems like only opportunities
lay ahead. Then, completely unexpectedly, you’re diagnosed. You have to put your studies on
hold to complete treatments that make you feel sicker, losing your scholarships and teaching
assistant position, while medical bills in amounts you can’t even fathom begin to pile up—a
debilitating emotional burden as well as a financial one. Maybe you were already struggling to
make ends meet before cancer, and lack the family support so many of us take for granted.

On the surface, the financial benefit of our grants is tangible and measurable. But the intangible,
and the immeasurable, is the sense of relief and hope, as well as community we give our grant
recipients. One of my favorite parts of my job is notifying people that they received funding.
During these calls, the most common reaction I experienced was an exhale, followed by laughter
or tears. One month of someone’s rent may not seem huge in the grand scheme of things, but
knowledge that someone is there for them, and that someone cares, is. One grant recipient
mentioned that after beating homelessness and cancer, she felt like she could only go up. And
then COVID-19 hit. And she faced homelessness again, but with our help, she was able to keep a
roof over her head. She even asked for links to our donation page so she could ask friends to
support us. Another recipient was so inspired by grant he received, he launched a non-profit of
his own to support young-adult cancer survivors. One of our grant recipients articulated our
impact best, in just a few words: “this is the key to my freedom.”

– Brooke Gentry

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