When Bridget Weinberg’s husband, kelly, passed away from brain cancer in 2007, she sought support from Gilda’s Club, a group for those touched by cancer named in honor of the late comedienne Gilda Radnor.
“I loved going, and looked forward to going every week,” recalls Weinberg, who grew close to group members she met near Fort Campbell, Tennessee, where Weinberg’s family was stationed.
A year later, when Weinberg moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, with her daughter, Samantha, to be closer to family, she was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a group like Gilda’s Club. So she created one.
“I was looking for a group specific to those touched by cancer,” says Weinberg. Friends and members of her church encouraged her to start The Kelly Weinberg Foundation. In 2010, the non-profit organization began offering support groups in Williamsburg. Dr. James Goalder, a clinical psychologist, helped train volunteers—mostly those who had cancer or who had been caregivers to those with cancer—to facilitate meetings with cancer patients or survivors and their families, as well as those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
“It’s really about camaraderie, having others share their experiences and knowing you are not alone,” Weinberg says.
Last year, The Kelly Weinberg Foundation collaborated with Williamsburg Community Chapel to host support groups. Groups meet twice a month, with a dozen or so cancer patients and their caregivers gathering for emotional and spiritual support.
“The response has been huge,” says Weinberg, who is one of the group’s facilitators. “It’s been great, a huge blessing. It’s amazing. I just wanted to do what I could do to help others in a similar situation, even if it was just a handful of people.”
Losing her husband was difficult, but Weinberg is grateful for her family, especially her daughter.
“Sam and I have traveled this road of grief together and I don’t know what I would have done without her,” Weinberg says. “She gave me a reason to get up each morning. I wish Kelly could have watched Sam grow up into this amazing young lady. I know he would be so proud.”
Weinberg is also thankful for the people she’s encountered through The Kelly Weinberg Foundation.
“I feel blessed to have met those people who I have met through the foundation,” Weinberg says. “Everyone is different. I’ve learned through my journey that what works for one person might not work for another. But groups are wonderful. It helps to speak to others who are also living through it in their households. Some people come and just listen and others will talk about the challenges of life with cancer and find laughter through the tears.”
The Kelly Weinberg Foundation is planning to expand services to include support groups at churches in Virginia Beach and in Hampton, Virginia, and Weinberg is ecstatic.
“We will go wherever we are needed,” she says.