Everything I know about Godzilla I learned at the Children’s Healing Center. This giant, dinosaur-like creature breathes atomic breath and unleashes radioactive beams whilst battling and brawling with opponents like Mothra and Rodan. He’s a much-loved monster with an extensive filmography and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame… and he’s one of Jackson’s preferred talking points on Tuesday nights, the nights I volunteer at the Children’s Healing Center.

I found the Children’s Healing Center — and met Jackson — through a friend of a friend just before our world went into lockdown, Fall of 2019. I quickly familiarized myself with the regular rhythms of those Tuesday evening programs, with the preparation, the protocol, and the people. I crafted crafts, connected giant Connect Four, scooched scooters, yoga-ed with yogis… I did what we do at the Children’s Healing Center: I had fun.

But then COVID hit.

And our regular rhythms at the Center — and in life — were disrupted.

“We find each other through shared experiences, we connect with each other through common interests, and we trust each other with our own unique stories”

I became apprehensive and uncertain about volunteering, about unknowingly and unwittingly passing COVID to a program participant, to a family member, to a fellow volunteer… despite my own — and the Center’s — strict health codes and covenants. I shied away during the summer months, finding solace in memes (didn’t we all) and sharing them with family and friends in a feeble (though funny) attempt to hold together a small sense of community.

But when I came back to the Center a few months later — and I observed the connection and the common thread between kids, caregivers, parents, staff, and volunteers — I understood more clearly how communities are built. Pre-pandemic, mid-pandemic, and post-pandemic…

And then we sit beside one another…

In pain and in healing, in sadness and in joy, and in disappointment and in delight.

“Together we chip away at anger and fear and isolation and loneliness to build community”

I needed wise, kind, and magical humans — a community — to help me navigate the last 20+ stupendously hard and tricky months, and I found them at the Children’s Healing Center. If you need wise, kind, and magical humans — a community — to help you navigate a difficult diagnosis or a challenging treatment, you’ll find them at the Children’s Healing Center too. Maybe even while talking about Godzilla.