Gilda's Club seeks to provide an emotional and social support community for people living with cancer as well as their friends and families, as an essential complement to medical care. Fundamental to the Gilda's Club philosophy is that membership is completely free of charge, and that the clubhouse environment is warm, welcoming, and non-institutional.
Gilda's Club Worldwide is the headquarters of the Gilda's Club network. The Worldwide staff works with communities around the world to start and sustain Gilda's Clubs and to advocate for the importance of emotional and social support for anyone touched by cancer. Gilda's Club Worldwide and its individual affiliates rely entirely on the philanthropic contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations to fulfill their missions.
Gilda's Club is named in memory of comedian Gilda Radner, who died from ovarian cancer in 1989. Gilda is best known for her work on NBC's Saturday Night Live. Her book, It's Always Something, describes her life with cancer. Gilda once said that cancer gave her "membership to an elite club I'd rather not belong to," which is where the name "Gilda's Club" originated.
Gilda's Club was founded in 1991 by Joanna Bull, Gilda Radner's cancer psychotherapist, together with Gilda's husband Gene Wilder, with the help of film critic Joel Siegel, actor/singer Mandy Patinkin and several of Gilda's other friends. The first Gilda's Club, including a worldwide training center, opened its signature red door in New York City in 1995.
Joanna Bull was Gilda Radner's psychotherapist during her cancer treatment. She was clinic director for the pioneering Center for the Healing Arts in Los Angeles, and later was part of The Wellness Community in Santa Monica and Redondo Beach, California. In addition to working in development and administration, she has trained and supervised therapists extensively and has worked with hundreds of people with cancer and their families on psychosocial issues related to cancer.
Men, women, children, friends and family meet to learn how to live with cancer, whatever the outcome. Support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events, as well as structured programs for children and teens, help members build their own unique and customized community of support.
Even though Gilda Radner herself had ovarian cancer, Gilda's Club is not just for women with ovarian cancer. It's for men and women of all ages, as well as for teenagers and children. It's for all people living with all types of cancer, and for their families and friends.
The mission of Gilda's Club is to provide a support community for people who have cancer, their families, and their friends. It is not part of our mission to serve people with other diseases, however worthy they might be. By altering our mission, we would be forced to dilute the focus of our program.
Private individuals, corporate sponsors, and foundations provide enormous direct and in-kind support for the renovation, mortgage, furnishings and program costs of Gilda's Club affiliates. (Please contact the Worldwide Development Office for further details).
Gilda's Club depends on volunteers to sustain and support our organization. If you're interested in volunteering at a clubhouse, contact your local affiliate. Click here to find the location closest to you.
Gilda's Club affiliates have found their local medical communities to be very responsive to the Gilda's Club mission and program. Support from local medical community leaders, along with their referrals, lends the organization significant credibility.
Gilda's Club is a unique program that was created out of the multitude of experiences Joanna Bull, the organization's founder, encountered during her professional career. In the past, Joanna served as director of both The Wellness Community and the former Center for the Healing Arts, from which elements of the Gilda's Club program are derived and evolved.
No, Gilda's Clubs are non-residential, but each freestanding clubhouse has a warm and welcoming home-like atmosphere where members can relax and feel comfortable in a non-medical setting. Though design and style varies by location, all clubhouses contain: a Living Room for reading and relaxing; Wellness Group Rooms for weekly sessions facilitated by licensed professionals; Workshop areas for meditation, nutrition, stress reduction and art projects; Noogieland, a playroom for kids and teens; an It's Always Something Room, a quiet place for personal refuge; and a large Community Meeting Room with nearby kitchen for potluck suppers, jokefests, lectures and other social events.