To anyone who has had the privilege of spending time with City of Hope volunteers Sal and Gloria Gill, it is obvious how much this kind and good-natured couple loves one another. Their 59-year marriage is proof of that.
It is this enduring love that has earned the couple, who have been volunteers for the past 13 years, the nickname “the Sweethearts.”
The pair met in high school and have been together ever since their first date to the movies. But there was a difficult journey ahead for them.
Sal and Gloria Gill
Finding Strength at City of Hope
At the age of 40, Sal and Gloria’s son, Dennis Gill, was diagnosed with lymphoma and sent to City of Hope. “They treated him very well. They were very good to him,” Sal remembers.
Sadly, Dennis’s illness could not be overcome, and he passed away at the age of 41. It was then that Gloria vowed to never stop supporting City of Hope. “Dennis was very happy with the care he received and how he was treated,” she recalls of her son’s treatment throughout his illness.
After Dennis’s passing, the couple’s experience with City of Hope continued. Not long after, Sal was diagnosed with colon cancer and found himself in the role of patient at City of Hope.
“I got lucky. They were so good,” Sal attests. “They talked and joked with me and made me feel better about being there. The staff has a lot of love for their patients, especially children and teenagers. These kids live there, so City of Hope makes it home for them.”
With Sal’s jovial nature, it is clear that he likes making people smile and was fast to make friends at the hospital. During his stay, Sal bonded with other families and made friends over shared experiences, which helped him through his own cancer battle. Sal expresses his feelings about City of Hope as “doing good for us and doing good for other people.” Sal attributes surviving his illness to the quality of care he received here.
Giving Back to City of Hope
Following Sal’s treatment, Gloria and Sal decided to devote their time to volunteering at City of Hope. And they have brought the same love, care and dedication they have for one another to their volunteer work.
Every Friday, Sal prepares information folders for patients and escorts patients to their doctors. He also used to shuttle patients and guests around the City of Hope campus as a tram driver. Sal’s favorite part of volunteering is helping patients get to their doctors, and the great volunteer coordinators he works with. “I also get to be next to my wife,” he says, “which I love a lot.”
Gloria also escorts patients through the hospital, answers the phone, delivers materials to radiology, and takes on any other task that is asked of her.
In her years as a visitor and then a volunteer at City of Hope, Gloria has seen firsthand the rapid progress being made here. She has seen how healthy the patients look because of how well they are treated. “Sometimes,” she says, “it’s hard to tell who is the patient and who is the caregiver.”
“Everybody tries to help at City of Hope,” she says. “I always see somebody trying to help somebody. They are kindhearted people who are there for a purpose.”
Gloria is thankful for the care that both her son and her husband received during their stays at City of Hope, and she is grateful that her husband’s cancer is in remission.
In sickness and in health, these “Sweethearts” have stayed together, and the love and care they bring to City of Hope are positively inspiring.
Through their volunteer work, Sal and Gloria exemplify what it means to provide compassionate care at City of Hope, and the pair make a powerful difference in the lives of all those they meet here. City of Hope is grateful for the love and care that Sal and Gloria bring to this community and for their kind support of City of Hope’s lifesaving work.
For more information on volunteering at City of Hope, please call 800-423-7119, extension 64049 or go online to www.cityofhope.org/volunteer.