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Erika Silva

Gifts of Kindness

Confronting A Crisis

After finding a lump during a self-exam, Erika Silva visited her doctor. When she received the call telling her that it was cancer, her world turned upside down. Thankfully, the cancer was found early and had not spread. She started treatment in early 2018 and had a double mastectomy in August that year.

A single mom, Erika lost her job not long after she started treatment. Worried about her health, dealing with a job loss, and with a teenage daughter to take care of, Erika was overwhelmed.

“When you first hear your diagnosis, everything just seems surreal, like it’s not really happening.”


“Now, not only am I dealing with cancer, but I have no income and I had no savings. It was a lot going on at the same time,” she said.

Riverside Methodist Hospital put Erika in touch with Columbus Cancer Clinic (CCC). CCC, which operates as a program out of LifeCare Alliance, provides not only education and screening resources, but support for those who are in treatment, like Erika. Thanks to CCC’s help, Erika was able to get help with her prescriptions, a wig free of cost, and food assistance when she needed it.

CCC also told Erika about The Columbus Foundation’s Gifts of Kindness Fund, which provides one-time grants to people experiencing a hardship. With their assistance, she applied for a grant to help with past-due bills, including rent, utilities, and car insurance. A grant of $3,828.58 was awarded to help Erika during this challenging time, allowing her to focus on healing and moving forward.

“I was so happy and overjoyed,” Erika said about the Gifts of Kindness grant. “I couldn’t believe that there was something out there to help someone in my situation. Stuff like that doesn’t happen. You hear about it, but I’ve never seen it close to me. It meant so much. I will never forget this gift of kindness. It gave me a bigger meaning. It gave me the desire to want to get through everything so that I could help others.”

With her treatment complete as of March 2019, Erika is concentrating on getting back to her active lifestyle and sharing her survival story with others.

“A cancer diagnosis can devastate a family emotionally, financially, and spiritually. The assistance some of our clients receive through Gifts of Kindness can help to provide some hope at a time when they need it most.”


Erika recognizes the power in kindness—what it has meant on her journey and how, if we all work together, we can truly move mountains.

“It starts with one little seed that is planted and that little seed grows so much, and it goes a really long way.”

About the Gifts of Kindness Fund

The Gifts of Kindness Fund was established in September 2014 with an initial gift of $500,000 from a generous Columbus Foundation donor. In 2018, 253 grants were awarded totaling more than $359,000 to lift up individuals who were experiencing an unforeseen setback.

Four new nonprofit partners were added in 2018, bringing the total to 26 as of December 31, 2018. New nonprofits include Physician’s CareConnection, Community Development for All People, Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, and The Center for Healthy Families.