Friends Volunteer Spotlight: Gretchen Fairweather and Kilborn Church

The Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center is pleased to honor the volunteers who come to the Cancer Center on a weekly basis. These volunteers give of their time and talents to make the lives of our patients as pleasant as possible.

Focus article photo

Gretchen Fairweather providing a reiki treatment to a patient with cancer in the infusion area of the Cancer Center.

Gretchen Fairweather

Gretchen Fairweather approaches volunteerism the same way she approached her career in radio—or when she managed a bed-and-breakfast in Quechee: with commitment. "The staff in the Volunteer Office at DHMC is great," says Gretchen, "They help match your interests with the available positions. They want and need you to be committed to your volunteer job."

Gretchen first volunteered at DHMC as an escort for the same-day surgery program and after several years helped with registration, again in same-day. Then she heard about reiki from a pediatric nurse who described how the ancient method of healing calmed babies in the nursery. Gretchen was intrigued and took a level I Reiki course, learning just the fundamentals. Finding that it helped with her own arthritis, Gretchen decided to learn more and signed up for Reiki II. Now she provides reiki treatments on a weekly basis in the infusion area of Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

As patients with cancer tend to have weekly appointments on the same day of the week, Gretchen sees the same people throughout their treatment. "It really is the patients and nursing staff that have made this a most rewarding experience for me."

Gretchen and her husband, retired pathologist Robert Fairweather, live at Eastman in Grantham, NH. She volunteers at the Eastman Recreation Committee, but for several years Gretchen has also given her time weekly to a neighbor, a mother of quadruplets, by lending an extra set of hands. And we hope, too, by administering those calming reiki treatments! 

Kilborn Church 
Photo: One of two paintings of Kilborn Church that hang in the office of DHMC Volunteer Services, both painted by Mary Fox Church.

One of two paintings of Kilborn Church that hang in the office of DHMC Volunteer Services, both painted by Mary Fox Church. Kilborn’s wife of 58 years, he describes Mary as, "the nicest person I have ever known." The two enjoyed sailing on the coast of Guilford, CT, before moving to Woodstock, VT, 20 years ago.

"Kilborn Church is a charming man, a gentleman in every way," said Marcy Sanborn, DHMC's Volunteer Services assistant. And Kilborn surely is someone Marcy has had plenty of opportunity to get to know since in the 12 years or so of his volunteering at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, he's logged in some 4,000 volunteer hours.

He started as an escort for surgical patients and their families and has worked also in the waiting room, in the gift shop, pushing the art cart, and arranging holiday decorations, and he was vice-president (2001-2003) and president (2003-2005) of the DHMC Auxiliary Volunteers.

Currently, he is working in the infusion room at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, serving lunches on Mondays, which brings his volunteerism full circle. When he moved to the Upper Valley, his first volunteer job was also serving lunches—at the senior center in Woodstock, VT.

Kilborn explains that he and his wife have been fortunate with their own health and they want to give back to the community. "It feels so good to give, you get so much back, and everyone here is so thankful and pleasant."

October 28, 2010