Shanti enhances the quality of life, health and well-being of people living with life-threatening illnesses, including Breast Cancer and HIV/AIDS.
Founded in 1974 by Dr. Charles Garfield, Shanti has been at the forefront of a growing national movement to enhance the quality of life for persons living with life-threatening or chronic illnesses by providing volunteer-based emotional and practical support.
Shanti is a Sanskrit word meaning "inner peace" or "tranquility". It is an appropriate name since, ultimately, all of Shanti's direct service and educational programs are aimed at easing the burdens and improving the well-being of people in difficult life situations.
Key to the success of Shanti's mission is the Shanti Model of Peer Support, which is both a philosophy and a set of techniques that are used throughout our work. It is a way of being with another person that frees both parties to be fully who they are and communicate their feelings to one another. It is a way of being which allows two persons to meet as equals. It is a way of relating to others that is characterized by certain values and attitudes.
Definition of Peer We define peer as someone who is not necessarily like us in obvious ways, but is someone with whom we share a basic humanity; someone with whom we are equals. All people share universal human experiences. By virtue of this shared humanity, we are all peers. The Shanti Model of Peer Support is based on this equality.
Values Underlying the Shanti Model of Peer Support
empowerment of the client (the assumption that the client has the solutions to his or her own problems and does not need your advice of direction)
genuineness (being oneself, authenticity)
acceptance of differences (does not mean agreement, but acceptance based on respect)
empathy (allowing oneself to feel with another person)
Shanti is a fabulous organization. For volunteer and client there is opportunity to form a close bond with someone. I didn't want a volunteer position where I just went in did hours and left. In my experience I was able to get to know my client well and help her with her practical and emotional needs. I was able to see first hand how hard it can be for a woman with breast cancer and how she is able to manage her life with four children and take care of herself. Shanti training, staff and my support group have also been a benefit to my experience volunteering.