While working as an Oncology Social Worker at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Aleeza Granote saw patients struggling to cope with the cancer treatment process, often feeling isolated and without hope. She noticed that sometimes patients simply needed a kind word or gesture to find renewed strength. On this realization, Aleeza founded Card Care Connection, a nonprofit that aims to reach individuals with cancer who lack adequate social and emotional resources. Card Care Connection provides beautifully crafted cards with inspiring messages – as well as care packages – to people with cancer across the country.
While Card Care Connection is available to anyone nationwide with cancer (regardless of age, gender, or income), the organization makes its largest impact in St. Louis. On the weekends and after work, Aleeza routinely holds card-making events with community groups, which help volunteers feel a sense of purpose. To date, Card Care Connection has received over 10,000 cards and works with over 100 volunteers.
Aleeza has received feedback that the cards’ psychosocial support can significantly improve the coping skills of individuals facing cancer. The benefits are also felt by the program’s volunteer card makers, many of whom are isolated low-income senior citizens or cancer survivors themselves who report a therapeutic benefit from supporting others with cancer.
Last July, Aleeza coordinated Card Care Connection’s first Beauty Bash, a family-friendly event at the St. Louis Galleria, to provide a fun outlet for caregivers, patients, and families touched by cancer. Aleeza’s event brought together many St. Louis area businesses to make the event possible for over 80 families, with activities to help patients and caregivers feel special and beautiful. Aleeza also serves as a young ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Association, and is currently a Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Social Worker at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
Aleeza’s enthusiasm never ceases. She seeks to expand Card Care Connection and to serve more people with cancer in St. Louis and across the country. Ellie Tucker, her nominator, wrote, “I am constantly impressed with Aleeza’s selfless outlook to life. She approaches her job every day asking how she can best serve patients and their families, and she approaches her free time with the same selfless enthusiasm.”