Cab Calloway senior launches gifts project for cancer patients

In June 2017, Cab Calloway School of the Arts senior Jacquelyn Janocha and her mother, Debbie Janocha, started Make the Heart Smile, a spirit-lifting project for cancer patients and survivors at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Through Make the Heart Smile, the Janochas present gift bags full of beautiful items to help gladden the hearts of people suffering from life threatening conditions while visiting the Graham Cancer Center.

It all began when Debbie Janocha was diagnosed with cancer and daughter Jacquelyn had to stand by and watch her mother endure many treatments at the cancer center. After seeing how hard the process was on her mom, Jacquelyn was motivated to help others undergoing cancer treatments and let them know somebody cares about them, she explained.

“It was heartbreaking,” Jacquelyn Janocha said, but “nothing feels as good as making someone smile and knowing that you have made a positive impact in their life.”

All gift bags contain a “Make the Heart Smile” card.

All of her gift bags contain a Make the Heart Smile card.

To-date, Jacquelyn Janocha has assembled and donated more than 700 gift bags. Under her leadership Cab Calloway School of the Arts’ Interact Club and the Students in Action Organization at the A.I. DuPont Middle School completed a joint community service project for Make the Heart Smile in 2018. The student volunteers wrapped 400 colorful and unique holiday gifts, which were packaged into gift bags with a special card that each volunteer signed. Seventeen Cab Calloway students and 14 A.I. du Pont Students participated in the project.

Debbie Janocha, Jacqueline Janocha, William Holden III, vice president, Cancer Program, and Kimberly Clark, Cancer Program administrative assistant.

“We are honored that Jacqueline is giving thanks for her mother’s survivorship, for the second year, by making this inspirational contribution to our patients to let them know that at this special time of the year they are remembered and encouraged as they continue their own journeys towards wellness,” said William L. Holden III, MBA, FACHE, Cancer Program vice president.