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Griffins Story and the Beauty of Community Service by Lily Morris

Griffins Story and the Beauty of Community Service by Lily Morris


No moment is so grim as when you see the hurt in a mother’s eyes after losing her son to cancer.  This is not the pain of hunger… the pain of abject poverty…or even the pain of physical suffering.  I believe it is the most profound pain a human being can experience.  Griffin Engle was a typical five year old and in the blink of an eye, his life changed.   The lively boy his family once knew was no longer the same. Griffin was diagnosed with a rare form of pediatric cancer and it was only a matter of time before he passed away.


 “Community Service” can happen in a lot of different ways and it can take place at any time – even when you least expect it.  I have spent many hours cleaning cages at the local SPCA, volunteering for our Special Olympics events, helping with fundraisers for a local Christian school, etc.  I believe in the power of helping groups and organizations.  But, I also believe that sometimes, one of the best forms of Community Service is by helping one individual, one family, and one cause for hope.  This intense focus can help move them from where they are now to the next point in their life. I did not personally know Griffin, but Golisano’s Children’s  Hospital in Syracuse, NY is where he spent a big portion of his young life.


Griffin’s story came to the attention of our community and we decided to do something to honor him and the rest of the children at Golisano.  We wanted to give them something that they can enjoy, something that will raise their spirits up from the surgeries, the chemotherapy, the needles, medicine, and boredom.   As Captain of my high school volleyball team, my coach approached me and after some discussion, we decided how we would bring laughter and happiness to these children.


The hospital had a total of seven games for all the children.  Kids love board games, and we initiated a drive in our community to collect as many as we could.  At the end of our drive, the hospital went from having seven board games to 205 of them.  With the help of our small and rural community, we were able to obtain 198 more games for them (almost a 3,000% increase). We delivered them to the children’s hospital as a team, and Griffin’s mother met us there. It was so eye – opening hearing about him from a first hand experience. I once again looked into his mother’s eyes, this time full of tears after saying how grateful she was that we took the time to care about her son and others like him.  It sounds strange, but the difficult privilege of looking into those eyes showed me not just loss, but love; not just despair and anger, but hope and peace.  


Being at the hospital that day has impacted me in many ways. Children are so resilient – they suffer so much but somehow still smile and act happy.  This not only touched my heart, but also provided me perspective on the difference I can make.  It is a small world and many people don’t reach out because the people that need help seem to be on “the other side of the world.”  We don’t know them, so they don’t really exist.  I didn’t know Griffin, but I caught his spirit.  And that spirit spread to our community, and looped back to the hospital floor where he was treated and changed lives there as well.  I hope my work with the Children’s hospital changed lives for the better – I know mine was.

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Contributed by Lily Morris

October 27, 2015