Apply to be a volunteer (note: student volunteers fill out a different application):

Download Community Member Volunteer Application (Word Document) and mail completed form to: Sharon Kaplan, Director of Volunteer Services, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, 612 West State St, Ithaca, NY  14850 or email to sharon@crcfl.net


Fill out the online form here now!

General Intern

This position will provide 2-3 academic credits (upon approval) and requires 8-10 hours per week over the semester. It is two-thirds administrative and one-third client support. The candidate must be available Tuesdays 4:30-7:30pm. The remaining hours are flexible, but need to be completed during regular business hours.

Administrative duties:

  • Provide support for fundraising activities—event promotion (social media, website, postering), logistics
  • General—help manage donor database, organization of client records, mailings, other projects as assigned
  • Research—may include finding information about cancer, treatment, support programs, supplies
  • Answering phones, greeting clients, general office help, occasional moving and lifting of boxes
  • Assist with planning and implementation of annual events: Retreat for women with cancer (Spring) or Walkathon (Fall).
  • Assist staff with other duties as needed.

Client support duties:

  • Accompany Director of Client Services to Cayuga Medical Center to visit with and provide support to cancer patients.
  • Set up and clean up for Tuesday evening groups.
  • Attend support groups as an observer.
  • Qualifications: Attention to detail, working knowledge of website design & social networking preferred, creative problem-solver, good eye for formatting (documents, signs, spreadsheets), strong communication skills, compassionate, sense of humor, and positive energy! Experience with cancer patients helpful, but not required.

To apply, send your letter of intent and resume/CV to Sharon Kaplan, Director of Volunteers.

Marketing/Communications Intern

  • Write press releases, prepare and record radio ads, public service announcements, and other PR tasks. Design ads and promotional materials. Manage social networking information. Update website. Write content for website and other outlets. Create marketing campaigns for specific programs and events.
  • Qualifications: Excellent writing and organizational skills. Must be able to work independently and meet deadlines. Junior or senior Communications major preferred.

To apply, send your letter of intent and resume/CV to Sharon Kaplan, Director of Volunteers.

Patient Support

  • Volunteers are a regular presence at Cayuga Medical Center, in the chemotherapy suite as well as the Radiation Medicine waiting room. They greet patients as they arrive for appointments, talk with family members, serve coffee and food, and other non-medical patient support. During the Spring and Fall semesters, these shifts are only available through the Patient Care Advocacy Team/PCAT program.

If you are interested in a shift over the summer, please contact Sharon Kaplan, Director of Volunteers.

How do you use volunteers?

Volunteers fill a variety of different roles within our organization.  Below are a few examples of the work they do.

  • Non-Direct Client Support
    General office tasks and projects
    Help at our annual Walkathon & 5K Run
    Serve on our board or one of our committees
    Assist with fundraising, PR, and/or Marketing
    Staff educational displays at public events
    Tend our gardens
    Fix and/or build things around our office
  • Direct Client Support
    Provide information and support at the CRC office or Cayuga Medical Center
    Write friendly greeting cards to clients
    Transportation to medical appointments (arranged through American Cancer Society)

Click here for further information about volunteer opportunities.

You can also contact Sharon Kaplan, Director of Volunteer Services sharon@crcfl.net or 277-0960.

Do I need to be a cancer survivor?

No. Some of our staff and many of our volunteers are people who have not had cancer themselves, but are committed to helping in a variety of ways.

What is the training?

The type and duration of training depends upon your volunteer position. For volunteers who routinely provide direct support to clients, you’ll receive an initial 6-hour training in confidentiality, active listening skills, boundaries, cancer basics, and more. You will be expected to attend monthly 1 ½ hour meetings for all direct client service volunteers. For volunteers who help at special events, such as fundraisers and outreach, training will be provided for your specific task on the day of the event.

What is the time commitment?

This depends upon the type of volunteer position you choose. Some of our volunteers work only one day per year at the Walkathon & 5K or some other event. Others are able to work 3-4 hours per week. Many volunteer just a few hours each month.

Can I volunteer in the evenings and on weekends?

We do have opportunities for people with limited availability. Please check with the Director of Volunteer Services to inquire about current openings.

Do you perform a background check?

Yes, if you will be working directly with clients. CRC covers the cost of the background check. We also ask you to provide us with 3 character references.

Direct Services

Cancer Resource Center Office (note: due to COVID19, this is on hold at this time)

Volunteers staff our reception area during regular business hours. They answer phones, greet visitors, meet with clients, and do projects as needed.

Cancer Support at Cayuga Medical Center (note: due to COVID19, this role is limited to health screening tables at this time).

Volunteers are a regular presence in the chemotherapy suite as well as the waiting room of Radiation Medicine. They greet patients as they arrive for appointments, talk with family members, serve coffee and snacks, and offer general support.

Financial Advocate

Volunteers assist individuals and their family members with financial issues related to their cancer diagnosis.  They may help with any of the following: organizing bills, identifying resources to help pay for medical bills and expenses, filling out forms, appealing insurance company denials, etc.

Ride Provider

Volunteers are needed to give occasional rides to medical appointments for clients who don’t have reliable transportation or are too weak to drive. They may also be requested to accompany the client into their doctor’s office to provide support during the appointment. We partner with American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery Ride program to provide this service.

Friendly Correspondent

For people who are looking to volunteer in a meaningful way, but are very limited with their time, an option is to maintain regular correspondence with clients via letters/cards, phone calls or e-mails.

Non-direct Services


Our biggest fundraiser of the year requires hundreds of volunteers and months of planning. Take part in the action by helping with flyer distributions, contacting local businesses, identifying team leaders to raise money, and much, much more.

Building Maintenance

Be part of the group of volunteers who help us with light maintenance and small repair issues for our office building.


Board, Committees, & Internships

Board of Directors

The board of directors is responsible for policy development and oversight of the entire organization. Board members play a key role in CRC relations with the greater community.


Development, Finance, Client Services, and other committees are comprised of community members, board representatives, and staff. Individuals with a genuine interest in the mission of CRC, who communicate well with others, and who bring a wide range of interests and backgrounds are sought to complement the roles of board and staff.


Students from Ithaca College, Cornell, and TC3 help CRC staff with a variety of tasks and projects. Click on “College Student” below for full job descriptions as well as how to apply.


Brené Brown on Empathy   Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care The Power of Empathy: Helen Reiss TED Talk Transforming Health Care through the Paradigm of Palliative Care:

Free Online Learning Opportunities
Introduction to the Science of Cancer (Ohio State)
Introduction to the Biology of Cancer (Johns Hopkins)
Cancer in the Community (Royal Marsden Hospital)
CancerCare Workshops
E-Training for Patients and Advocates and the Community (Cancer Information and Support

Volunteer Spotlights

Alicia Duran

Alicia Duran

Alicia Duran is a senior and accelerated master's student at Cornell University. She is majoring in health care policy and is working towards a Master's in Health Administration. She became involved with CRC this past summer as a remote administrative assistant and is continuing her position into the academic year, helping with everything from research to data entry (and lots of stuff in between!) Alicia hopes to turn her passion for helping her community into a mission-driven career in health administration. Outside of work and academics, Alicia enjoys trying new restaurants in Ithaca and going fruit picking at nearby farms.

Karl Paulnack

Karl Paulnack

Karl Paulnack is a long-term survivor of pancreatic cancer and completed a month-long inpatient stay, including a Whipple procedure, at Tompkins Community Hospital (predecessor to Cayuga Medical Center) in 1994. Currently on a final sabbatical from Ithaca College, where he served as dean of the music school since 2013, he feels passionate about giving back to the place that supported him through his cancer journey. Karl is a nationally recognized pianist, educator, author and speaker, and remains active as a performer, presenter, board member and consultant to a number of musical and educational organizations. Karl’s goal is to engage in meaningful personal support with patients undergoing cancer treatment. While the pandemic has certainly changed the look of how volunteers interact with patients, he has embraced his role as COVID screener at the hospital. Karl actively engages with patients heading to and from treatment and finds these personal connections very rewarding. He plans to add “Friendly Caller” to his volunteer activity, extending his support to CRC clients over the phone. Karl lives in Ithaca with Dave, his husband of 28 years, and their dog Mato, 85 pounds of love and mischief in a three-year-old Labrador/Bulldog mix.


Rebecca McTavish

Rebecca McTavish is a newly appointed receptionist at CRC. She recently moved to Ithaca from Australia while her husband completes his PhD program at Cornell. She completed a Bachelor of Music specializing in the Classical Trombone mid 2016, and has years of experience in administration and customer service. It is easy to say that she has a ‘stable’ obsession with popcorn, and loves to contribute to the community in any way she can. She has found the staff and volunteers of this non-profit organization very dedicated and welcoming, and will regularly be in the office Wednesday mornings.


Gret Atkin

Gret Atkin is a long-time resident of Ithaca. She spent 30 years at Cornell doing research on clothing for people with disabilities and managing the 4-H Clothing Project. She was a CRC Reception volunteer from 2009 through 2015, and gave an astounding 4,347 hours of her time! A few years ago, she moved from Fall Creek to Longview, where she volunteers at the store and does clothing modifications for residents. In addition, she volunteers in Radiation Oncology at CMC and spends as much time as possible with her nearby grandsons Emmett (3) and Noah (almost 6). She is delighted to be volunteering again at the CRC Reception desk and looks forward toseeing friends from the past.  We feel very lucky to have her back!


Stephaney Powell

After a brief hiatus, Stephaney Powell has rejoined the volunteer team! Actually, Steph volunteered for CRC many years ago, then worked as a Client Services Assistant until September 2018. We feel so fortunate to have her back in the office, both as a Financial Advocate as well as a Reception volunteer. Steph’s background in science education as well as her adept research skills are a true asset to our clients. When not at CRC, Steph spends time with her family, plays volleyball, and is very involved in her kids’ school.


Faith Kessler, LMT, CSW

Faith Kessler, LMT, CSW, trained at the Swedish Institute in NYC, where she learned massage techniques designed to improve circulation and lymph flow, and has been practicing therapeutic massage since 1995.  Her practice continues to evolve as her interests lead her to learn new modalities, most recently energy work and cupping. As both a cancer and childhood abuse survivor, Faith brings a loving sensitivity and a unique intuition to her practice. She appreciates and values the special trust between client and practitioner.

Volunteering at CRC has allowed Faith to give back to a wonderful organization whose services were immeasurably helpful to her during her own cancer journey several years ago.  Providing care to those who may be feeling vulnerable and depleted benefits her as well. This allows her to feel connected and compassionate, using her extensive experience to soothe others in the way she knows best.  For this she is truly grateful. In turn, we are grateful to Faith for the love, time, and attention she gives to our clients.


Melissa Kolberg

Cancer has greatly impacted Melissa’s family and she is so appreciative of the support that CRC was able to give. Her extensive experience in mental health, writing, and creative projects is a huge asset to us. She wanted to get involved with CRC to give back to her community in a meaningful way. Melissa's calm and caring demeanor brings comfort to clients when they visit or call our office. 

Outside of volunteering, Melissa spends time caring for the sheep and chickens who live on her farm. Rockabye Ridge is a therapeutic farm in Trumansburg, NY that creates a haven to nourish animals, plants, and people.


Sara Seifert

Sara Seifert is no stranger to cancer. She has had over 20 years as an oncology nurse.  Her father, a former CRC volunteer, is a cancer survivor and she sadly lost her father-in-law to cancer 10 years ago. All these experiences as well as feeling that CRC plays a vital role in our community are what propelled
her to volunteer. You’ll find Sara at the Reception desk on Tuesday mornings.


Veronica Del Manzano

Veronica Del Manzano joined our group of Financial Advocate Volunteers in March, and will provide our clients with assistance navigating the challenges that come with paying for cancer treatment.  She has extensive knowledge about the insurance world due to her work an agent with PW Wood and Son, Inc.


John Zavaski

John Zavaski serves as a Client Support Volunteer at CMC. He does a weekly shift in the chemo suite, talking with patients, serving snacks, and generally doing what he can to make the patients and caregivers more comfortable.

John is no stranger to the hospital environment, having retired as a Laboratory Supervisor at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. In addition to volunteering for CRC,
John also teaches Microbiology to Nursing students at TC3.


Bob Riter

Some of you may recognize this man as the former  Executive Director of CRC.  Bob Riter just loves us so much, he came back as a volunteer! He will be providing support to cancer patients & their families at Cayuga Medical Center. Newly retired, Bob enjoys spending time with his beagle, Holly, napping, and attending various groups and presentations related to cancer. He is an accomplished Aquaciser & loves going out for breakfast.


Darlene Armstrong

During her cancer journey (and beyond), the one thing that got Darlene Armstrong through the process was the understanding and compassion of the staff and volunteers at CRC. She saw firsthand the need for people affected by cancer to connect with a cancer survivor—someone who has made it through ok. This is what really gave her hope and strength. She would now like to give that same support to other people travelling the cancer journey. This will take the shape of offering Financial Advocacy and Friendly Correspondent services to CRC clients. When she is not volunteering, Darlene enjoys camping and kayaking and tending her very large collection of honeybees.


Deb Rovitz

Deb Rovitz is a fairly new Ithaca transplant, moving here with her husband to be closer to their son and his family. She taught high school English for 28 years in Sullivan County before retiring and moving upstate. After a period of settling into her new community, Deb felt compelled to volunteer with a local non-profit organization. Drawing on her personal experience as a caregiver to close family members, she felt a natural fit with a volunteer position at CRC. In her role as Client Support Volunteer, Deb talks with patients and their caregivers in the Radiation Oncology Department at CMC. She particularly enjoys listening to their stories and supporting them in their cancer journey, having been on a similar path at one time herself. When she isn’t volunteering, Deb enjoys gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.


Amy Chapman

“After unexpectedly losing my father to cancer, I really wanted to get involved by helping others in the community. I heard about the Cancer Resource Center through some local people, who said it was a wonderful organization. CRC has always had a great reputation, and after volunteering with them I can see why. The staff is so appreciative of their volunteers and they are always willing to help someone in need. They all have so much to do, and do everything so willingly without expecting anything in return. I am so grateful to be able to help them


Sally Grubb

As a long-time member of the Ithaca community, Sally Grubb has volunteered since she first came to town in 1978. Her volunteer and professional lives have been varied and long. She was very active in her children’s school as well as several local bookstores.  Sally worked for TCPL as Exhibit Coordinator, just recently retiring from that position. She has served on many different boards, including the Ithaca City School District, the City Federation of Women’s Organizations, and the Community Arts Partnership. Sally has been touched deeply by the support she received at CRC during her own breast cancer journey. Her family and friends have also been affected by cancer. It was this personal experience that motivated her to give back to her community once again. This time, as a Reception volunteer with the Cancer Resource Center, providing support and information to those who, like herself, have been affected by cancer.


Donna Berich

Donna Berich is no stranger to the Cancer Resource Center. She has been participating in groups & events for years. You may recognize her as one of our beautiful models from the 2017 Multicultural Fashion Show. In addition to occasional modeling, Donna is an Elementary School Teacher, currently subbing in Groton. She is an active participant in helping her community, having volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, the Dream Factory, Girl Scouts, and the Groton School District. She wanted to get more involved with CRC and we realized that her kind, compassionate nature would be a perfect addition to our Reception Volunteer Team.


Linda Nobles

Linda Nobles knows how hard it is to focus on anything when you have cancer. She has been a
caregiver to many friends with the disease and realized that she wanted to continue to help others through volunteer work. As the former Associate Director for Benefits Analysis at Cornell, Linda knows a great deal about healthcare plans and how they work. She thought she’d put her knowledge to work as a Financial Advocate for CRC clients who need assistance navigating the sea of information and resources related to their cancer diagnosis.