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Palm Coast Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 5 months ago

Standing O: Florida Hospital volunteer Elaine Gonsalves uses cancer experience to help others

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FHF Foundation Director John Subers nominated her for an Observer "Standing O."
by: Paige Wilson Community Editor

Palm Coast resident Elaine has been volunteering with Florida Hospital Flagler’s marketing department, as well as the Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation for the last decade.

FHF Foundation Director John Subers has nominated her for a “Standing O” in the Observer, after their last 10 years of partnership.

“I’m kind of like John’s foot soldier,” Gonsalves said. “I go to the different events, different restaurants and put up donating buckets.”

Her volunteering began soon after she was declared cancer-free. After completing a rigorous 90-day chemotherapy treatment to rid her of stage 4 ovarian cancer, Gonsalves knew she wanted to use her experience to help others.

“My main thing in life is to pass it on,” she said. “I meet a lot of people. … If you can explain or give your testimony to someone, then they’ll know they’re not alone.”

“She inspires me each time she walks into our office ready to accomplish the next task assigned. Her work is totally about ‘others,’ and any attention given to her is quickly deflected to others or how God has blessed her and given her the ability and strength to support others.”

- JOHN SUBERS, Florida Hospital Flagler Foundation director

Gonsalves has earned the “5,000 volunteer hours” pin from the FHF Auxiliary volunteers, which is cumulative for her years of volunteering, she said.

She has lived in Palm Coast since 1999 and keeps herself busy in the community; that’s where she finds her joy.

In addition to her extensive work with FHFF, she started volunteering with the Flagler Auditorium in 2012, and, most-recently, got a job at Chick-fil-A as a greeter in the dining room.

“It’s been a pleasure,” she said about her time so far at the Palm Coast Chick-fil-A. “I’ve been with them for about six months. It’s a new venture. The owners and the staff are excellent people to work for. … They’re all there just to help the community.”

Up until recently, she worked there about 3-4 times a week; but she’s had to take a step back due to a knee problem.

It’s tiring work, she said, but the genuine people she’s met push her through.

“They’re just beautiful people and you don’t run across a lot of them,” Gonsalves said. “Everybody there, they just want to help — help the community, do whatever they can. I’ve been in different businesses and it’s not the same. When you go there, it’s faith-based, like the hospital. They’re always like, ‘What can I do? What can I do?’”

When she found out she was nominated for the “Standing O,” she was quick to note the involvement of others.

“She inspires me each time she walks into our office ready to accomplish the next task assigned,” Subers said of Gonsalves. “Her work is totally about ‘others,’ and any attention given to her is quickly deflected to others or how God has blessed her and given her the ability and strength to support others.”

“I appreciate it, I value it; but there are so many others,” Gonsalves said. “I do this out of love.”

Editor's note: Florida Hospital Flagler is now AdventHealth, as of Jan. 2, 2019.

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