NewsPay It Forward


75-year-old volunteer greeter brightens spirits, lives of cancer patients in West Michigan

Posted at 3:00 PM, Apr 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-24 20:25:38-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich., -- Thursdays are extra special for Robert Bos. For the past six years, he's been volunteering every Thursday morning at West Michigan Cancer Center (WMCC), a place he calls his "home away from home."

"I literally get up on Thursday with enthusiasm. I can't wait to get to work and see my patients," Bos told FOX 17 News. "It's family. It's like seeing all family."

Bos recalls taking his wife to WMCC as a patient for more than three years. Before she passed away in December 2008, he promised her that he would return to the facility after she was gone.

"I told her, prior to her passing, that when that took place, I was going to come down here and give back a little of what they've given me," he explained.

The very next month, the 75-year-old Navy veteran signed on as a volunteer greeter. He stands out front every Thursday morning offering kind words, a special thank you to his fellow veterans, and even hugs.

"His role here is to welcome people in, make sure they feel comfortable coming in," said Samantha Carlson, the Director of Social Services at WMCC. "He will go beyond, asking patients about their family, getting to know them... He spends a lot of time, getting to know them as people, rather than cancer patients. Cancer interrupts their life, and he helps bring life back to them."

"I really emphasize and sympathize at the same time with these patients, because I know what everyone is going through," added Bos. "I just want to be a part of letting someone know we care about them."

Bos is loved by patients, their families and the staff at WMCC. He's created many tight bonds and friendships over the years. He said it's not uncommon to receive Christmas cards from patients, thanking him for his efforts.

"That's what it's all about. Just giving back to somebody. Letting them know we care about them," said Bos. "It's not about cancer. It's about life in general... It kind of gives back to me too, that warm feeling, that what I'm doing is exactly what I should be doing."

Bos said he has no plans of stopping his volunteer service anytime soon. In fact, he plans to move from Plainwell to Kalamazoo next month to be closer to family and the center.

As the April Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Bos will receive a $500 dollar check, courtesy of Independent Bank.

Know someone who FOX 17 should feature as our next Pay it Forward Person of the Month?  Nominate them here.

Meet Becky Callihan, our March Pay it Forward Person of the Month.