Student Volunteer Groups

Student Volunteers for Georgetown University Oncology Patient Support Club (GU-OPS)

Georgetown University Oncology Patient Support (GU OPS)

The Georgetown University Oncology Patient Support (GU OPS) club is a Georgetown University undergraduate student volunteer club that has partnered with the Arts and Humanities Program at the Lombardi Cancer Center since 2016.

The GU OPS club make cards, origami cranes, and herb pillows (to name a few projects), and shadow the artists-in-residence at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

We are so lucky to have club members who are passionate about making someone’s day by creating beautiful cranes, and cute, funny cards. Not only do we get to send some kindness to someone in need, but members also get a break from their busy schedules. Making cards and cranes is a relaxing, creative outlet for us, and a means of building community by meeting new students and deepening relationships with the ones we already know.

Interview from GU OPS Club President, Caroline Ericsson….

1. Tell me about yourself. What’s your major and background? 

My name is Caroline Ericsson, and I am a senior at Georgetown majoring in Biology and French on the pre-medical track. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and I am the current President of GU Oncology Patient Support (GU OPS).

2. How did you become interested in the GU OPS? 

I joined GU OPS because I was passionate about the intersection between art and medicine. I have been doing ballet since I was little, and my time as a dancer has shown me the power of creative outlets for expression, connection, and promoting well-being. As I searched for clinical opportunities during my first year at Georgetown, I was specifically drawn to GU OPS because I was inspired by its unique mission of using art to promote healing. 

3. Tell me about the GU OPS. How did it originate? What is its mission? 

GU OPS was created before my time here, but it began as a partnership between Georgetown University students and Lombardi’s Arts and Humanities program. Our mission is to create crafts to brighten up the space in the Lombardi waiting room and contribute to a warm, welcoming environment for patients. Our volunteers can be found at a back table in the waiting room creating cards and origami cranes, which patients and loved ones can take with them as they await their appointments. We’ve noticed that these small crafts can have very meaningful impacts on patient experience, as they can add color and cheer to a difficult day.

4. What project has the GU OPS completed or will complete that you’re most excited for? 

Recently, our most exciting update has been our return to in-person volunteering in the Lombardi waiting room. From 2020 through this past fall, we were unable to visit Lombardi due to Covid-19-related restrictions. During this time, we made crafts asynchronously in Georgetown classrooms and delivered them to Lombardi on a weekly basis. While this was still a valuable way to bring art into the cancer center, we missed having face-to-face interaction with patients and clinical staff. We are thrilled to return to volunteering in-person in Lombardi this semester. 

5. What do you envision for GU OPS in the future? 

After three years of volunteering asynchronously, we are very excited to continue crafting in-person in Lombardi. Additionally, we would love to continue to integrate GU OPS into the physical hospital setting through collaborations with Artists-in-Residence. In the past, GU OPS has partnered with Artists-in-Residence to learn how they use different art forms, such as collage, music, and creative writing, to promote healing. Further partnerships with these artists would help GU OPS volunteers learn more about the value of creativity in a medical setting. 

Finally, I am so grateful for my time with GU OPS; as I prepare for my graduation in May, it is one of the elements of my Georgetown experience that I will miss the most.