Skip to main content

Mountain Home Magazine

Flight of the Humblebee

Jul 01, 2023 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard

A honeybee must usually visit a flower seven to ten times before it’s fully pollinated, but a bumblebee can pollinate a flower in a single visit. Paige Griffin chose the bumblebee as the icon for the Humble Bumble Project, the nonprofit she dreamed up before her death from cancer at the age of twenty-two. It couldn’t be more fitting, because Paige made an impact on people she met only once.

Michele Griffin, Paige’s mother and the co-founder of HBP, says “Paige was a save-the-earth type girl.” The charity provides financial help and care bags to pediatric and young adult cancer patients. From the moment Paige was diagnosed to when she passed away, help and assistance poured out to her and her parents, Michele and Chad.

The family had good health insurance—Michele is an accounting manager at SAM, Inc., a private human services organization that contracts with Tioga County—but there were lots of travel costs associated with Paige’s medical treatments. Still, over the two-and-a-half years, the family only paid $2,500 out of pocket. They know their situation is unusual. The mission of HBP is to help alleviate the financial burden created by the countless cancer-related expenses and necessities that medical insurance will not cover—mileage, lodging, meals, and incidentals—so parents and caregivers can focus on family rather than finance.

Paige was diagnosed with sarcoma in 2016. She died in November 2018, and never got to see HBP launch that July. “I’d much rather be doing this with her beside me rather than in her honor,” Michele says, “but something good needs to come of it.”

Missing Paige

When young, Paige worked with kids, volunteering at Trinity Lutheran School’s summer program and vacation bible school, and at the Green Free Library’s summer reading program. Michele says, “Everyone would tell her how good she was with the children and that she should become a teacher. So, in typical teenager fashion, she said she would never work with children.”

But no other purpose jumped out at her. She graduated from Wellsboro Area High School in 2014, spent a year at Drexel University, then worked as a nanny, all the time searching for her path. This made her “very frustrated” her mom says, though Paige loved taking care of “her girls.” She decided to return to school, this time to Keuka College. That summer, before the semester started, they took Paige to the ER for what they thought was appendicitis. They were told she had masses in her pelvic area. Everything was thought to be benign. Even after removing a baseball-sized mass and more, they still thought it was benign. But it was a rare cancer.

“In true Paige fashion, she started classes on schedule at Keuka just ten days post-op,” Michele recalls. “We picked her up from her dorm and took her to her first chemo treatment.” Paige realized that a germy dorm wasn’t the best place to stay at that time. She convinced her professors to let her complete her classes from home, and was disappointed when she received three As and two Bs. As if dealing with a cancer diagnosis, chemo treatments, and handling all the side effects was no excuse for less than perfection.

Instead of continuing at Keuka, she went back to Trinity Lutheran, working as a preschool aid as her treatments and blood counts allowed. “After her diagnosis, she became even more frustrated with not knowing her path in life,” Michele recalls. But a few weeks before Paige died, she figured it out.

“She said she realized her purpose—to take care of the children that had passed and who are waiting for their parents.”

Bee Good to Each Other

According to her mom, Paige didn’t care about anyone’s financial situation, religion, sexual orientation, or skin color. “She just cared if you were a good person.” And doing good is her legacy. HBP has given more than $23,000 of assistance for travel expenses, rent, car payments, and groceries, purchased cooling caps for UPMC-Williamsport, and has helped a family get a shower installed in a downstairs bathroom.

Local individuals and groups help raise funds. Rick Beckwith created an ice cream flavor for Main Street Creamery in Wellsboro in honor of Paige and based on her favorite flavor—dark chocolate with raspberry swirls and fudge-filled hearts. It’s called A Paige from Her Book and proceeds go to HBP.

Bumble Bags, care kits for those undergoing cancer treatment, are a community effort as well. Members of the Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild donate their handmade bags, bringing color and joy to the infusion centers where they’re distributed. Ingredients include hand sanitizer, lip balm, ginger chews, tissues, playing cards, sleep balm, hand-drawn cards from kids at Trinity Lutheran School, and clay bumblebees made by James States, the art teacher at North Penn-Mansfield High School. “The bumblebees are a sort of worry stone that they can hold in their hand,” says Michele. The Mansfield University men’s basketball team have helped stuff the bags, filling 158 bags in under an hour.

A grant from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation allows them to provide Dunkin’ Battle Bags to cancer patients between thirteen and eighteen years of age. The duffels, worth $500, are full of comfort items to make inpatient hospital stays more pleasant.

On July 22, Crooked Creek Campground in Gaines is hosting Wilderfest, celebrating Upper Pine Creek and summer fun outdoors. Proceeds will be donated to HBP, which they chose because “it’s small, local, and offers peace to people we interact with every day.” Join in outdoor activities, browse crafty vendors, and feast upon fabulous foods, all while listening to great music. HBP will have a booth there to provide information. For tickets and reservations go to or call (814) 433-6100.

The Humble Bumble Project consists of: Michele Griffin, president; Chasity Kaltenbach, treasurer; Deborah Rudy, secretary; and Chris Greenwalt, Terri Patrick, Allie Rudy, and Brooke Webster as board members. The application and eligibility requirements for their various programs, as well as a link for online donations, can be found at Find them on Facebook or call (570) 439-6485.

Explore Elmira 2024
Explore Corning 2024
Experience Bradford County 2024
Explore Wellsboro, Fall/Winter 2023-2024