Volunteer Stories

Nili Shrage Davis

8/20/2011Miami, Florida

When I was in the tenth grade, I heard about a four-year-old boy named Coby who was in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Back then, I didn’t know much about what that meant. But what I did understand was that there was a child who was suffering. Then I learned that there was an organization, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, doing everything they could to help find Coby’s match.

Suddenly motivated to help this child that I didn’t even know, I contacted Gift of Life and told them that I wanted to run a bone marrow donor recruitment drive in Boston. Gift of Life made it so easy to do, supporting me every step of the way in planning and implementation. So, in 1997, I coordinated a drive at the Jewish Community Centers in Newton, MA. We had a raffle to offset the costs of the testing, got food donated, and were able to test over 60 people that day. For me, it was an amazing day, and I felt a real connection to Coby.

As time went on, two people that I knew, Sharon Blumenstein and Sharon Steiff (a high school teacher of mine) were in need of transplants and searching for their perfect matches. Gift of Life held recruitment drives for both women, and so many people that they each knew joined the registry for them, ultimately saving other lives as well. Knowing that Gift of Life’s efforts had such an impact on people that I knew, as well as the countless others that I didn’t, meant a great deal to me.

Then, in November of 2007, while attending the Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York City, I heard that Jay Feinberg would be speaking on Yeshiva University's campus at a program sponsored by the Medical Ethics Society. Even though it had been ten years since I had first volunteered for Gift of Life, this was the first time that I was able to meet Jay face-to-face and to tell him that I thought his own story was truly amazing.

Since then, I have become more involved with Gift of Life than ever before. Along the way, I've made life-long friends who share my passion for saving lives. I have volunteered at numerous drives sponsored by Yeshiva University, as well as at the annual UJA Wall Street Dinner, and represented Gift of Life at local health fairs. When I am with the people who work and volunteer for Gift of Life, I feel like I am part of a big extended family.

Honestly, to this day, I still don’t know why I was originally drawn to and began volunteering for Gift of Life; what I do know is that as long as there are people out there who are still in need of a match, you will find me out there spreading the word about Gift of Life and its incredible mission.

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