A new group at St. Ambrose University is offering support to those who are dealing with cancer, whether it’s their own or a family member’s diagnosis.

Kelsey Allen, program director, and Vicente Solis, program manager, with Gilda’s Club Quad Cities are the organizers behind the latest Club in the area, this time at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. This group, known as Gilda’s Club University, is special because it’s one of only two in the nation to be headquartered at a college campus. Allen says Gilda’s Club headquarters, Cancer Support Community, is the brains behind the new project. They received the news of the grant in July 2022.

“I think they just recognized that the young adult population, which is about 18 to 39, is a unique population when it comes to cancer,” says Allen. “There’s over 60,000 new diagnosis each year in that age range and we’re just trying to find a new way to reach them. Once we received the grant, we got right to work with the college. We selected St. Ambrose University because it’s local to us, it’s very close in proximity to our Davenport clubhouse. Vicente is actually a former alumnus and so he had some connections as well. We just felt like it was a good university to target.”

The grant is a one time offering to fund the program as a pilot project. The funding allows the program to operate from April of last year through June of this year. Allen and Solis and their team will take careful notes of what they learned to share with the Cancer Support community. “Hopefully they can take that information and use it at any university or college in the nation,” said Allen.

“The young adult population is harder to reach and connect. You think about people 18 to 39, they’re starting families, getting themselves through college, their time is limited to receive support and so we just found it as an exciting way to reach that demographic in a new way,” she said.

The grant encouraged them to hold two educational workshops on campus and one was held in November on coping skills. A second one is still in the planning stages with Gray Matters. The chapter is currently only for St. Ambrose students, but the hope is to tailor future chapters to other local colleges such as Augustana. However, if someone in the targeted age group needs support, they can still reach out to Gilda’s Club for help. “If there’s a young adult who’s not necessarily connected to that university or college at this time, we can serve them as Gilda’s Club Quad Cities, not necessarily Gilda’s Club University.”

 St. Ambrose students who would like more information on Gilda’s Club University can visit the college’s website, visit their Facebook page or the Gilda’s Club University page. For more information on Gilda’s Club, click here.