Building Joy Piece by Piece – Mariah, Chemo Pal Intern

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of any nonprofit, but for Children’s Cancer Association (CCA), volunteers and specifically our program interns, have a lasting impact on the children and families served. Mariah is one such intern, currently working with the Chemo Pal Mentor Program.

Meet Mariah

Mariah’s bright personality shines through when she’s learning and helping others. She loves a day in the outdoors: skiing, hiking, running. Earning her degree in Social Work from the University of Portland, she also has a minor in theology and social justice. Her ultimate goal is to achieve her master’s in teaching so that she can work as an elementary school counselor.

When Mariah heard about Children’s Cancer Association’s mission, it resonated with her deeply. “My sister suffers from trichotillomania or pulling out your own hair. I’m a triplet with my brother and sister, so it was really tough for my brother and I to understand why she had to be pulled out of school or visit the doctor so often.”

These experiences with medical challenges in the family have led Mariah to connect on a deeper level with children and teens working with the Chemo Pal team, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by her supervisor, Christina.

“Mariah works incredibly hard and she cares A LOT. It’s inspiring to see someone so young be so focused while being open to learning and helping people. She is a great team player and wants the program to succeed. She takes pride in her work but is always looking to learn and improve. Mariah has helped us so much this year! Kids are drawn to her and she can connect with them so easily.”

While learning the ins-and-outs of record keeping and data entry has been helpful for Mariah, her inspiration for coming to CCA will always be the children.

Looking at Each Puzzle Piece

“I love meeting families and talking to the kids. With my family’s experience, I’ve realized how important it is to pay attention to the things that influence a kid’s life outside of the hospital experience. And that’s what CCA cares about. That lesson is something I’ll take away from my internship, really looking at each little puzzle piece that influences a child’s day and life.”

Using everything she’s learned in the last few months, Mariah now supervises two of her own matches.

“When I matched Uriah and Chelsea, Uriah was instantly engaging and so warm. He loves music, so whenever Chelsea visits, she brings toys. They’ve also connected outside the hospital, which is great to see.”

Uriah and Chelsea

“Mabel and Bianca are my other match. Before Mabel’s hair fell out, they had matching purple hair. Mabel is super independent and into science, Bianca is that way too. I’m really glad they’re matched and just recently Bianca got a hug, something Mabel does not give out freely!”

Mariah’s internship ends in May when she graduates from the University of Portland, but there is no doubt that she’s left her mark on CCA! Thank you, Mariah, for your dedication and hard work, best of luck.