This post is part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who are making a difference in their communities.
Dana Carol Gillihan, Nashville Director, For a Day Foundation
I joined For a Day in August 2005, when I was granted to become a regular event at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. I host parties for the girls with fingernail polish, lip painting, party favors, and they get to choose a crown that has been donated by girls that compete in children's pageants. We have grown and now include others that donate their time and talents to bring smiles to these children's faces. We also have local firefighters attend for the boys, they bring their equipment for them to try on and for them to meet everyday heroes. The For a Day Foundation's goal is to encourage kids to be kids even in difficult times, it is designed to raise self-esteem and confidence in children. We are committed to create positive experiences for children and providing them and their families with a joyful and much need diversion.
I have a passion to help and encourage children. My two girls competed in pageants and we had so many small crowns and began giving them away as birthday gifts for girls in their class. That was a huge hit, the class was small and it gave me the idea, if these girls were so excited with receiving them, who could I donate to give to other girls. So the quest began, I contacted a lady in Memphis, that at the time was doing parties for the Foundation. She encouraged me to start one here in Nashville at the children's hospital. I did some research regarding the Foundation and then contacted the hospital on what I needed to host such parties. That task was lengthy, as they are very protective of the children in the hospital. I presented my request to the Child Life Specialist, and she then presented to the board. I was notified that our request was granted and so honored to continue hosting at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital now for 13 years.
I was told at an early age giving is so much rewarding than receiving. I believe that today, to see the children's faces light up at these events and to hear parents thank us for putting that smile there, is so rewarding. I would encourage anyone to serve in some way, whether it be a small or large gesture, you never know who you are rewarding. If you have an idea, do your research, someone will surely benefit and God will help you make it happen.
Thank you for letting me share my story.