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Centennial Convention

Centennial Convention: A Celebration of Volunteers
In only 100 years, City of Hope has transformed itself from a small tuberculosis sanatorium into a world-renowned biomedical, treatment and education center. Recently, it celebrated those who helped make all this possible – volunteers.
From June 21 through June 23, almost 600 volunteer fundraisers from around the country visited City of Hope to take part in a celebration of the institution, its centennial and, most important, their own contributions. Volunteers from every region attended, with the largest showing coming from fund-raising chapters in Florida and Philadelphia.
City of Hope’s chapters, and their volunteer members, have worked long and tirelessly for an institution that is, to many, on the opposite side of the country simply because they understand its impact. Lifesaving research and care may begin here, but they certainly don’t end here. City of Hope’s breakthrough compounds have become life-saving drugs; its leading-edge treatments  have evolved into the gold standards of care; and its exquisite patient care has become the model on which other programs are based.
The volunteers know this better than anyone. And during a celebration known as Centennial Convention, they heard first-hand testimony from the researchers, doctors and patients whom their work has benefited.
Among the presentations:
  • Neuroscience: From lab to clinical trial
  • Chemical synthesis: Turning compounds into treatments
  • Women’s cancers: Treatment and progress
  • Urology: Treatment and progress
  • Supportive services for patients: A unique approach
Participants took part in activities not just on campus, but at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, an iconic landmark hotel that pre-dates City of Hope by only a few years.  Entertainers at the event included “American Idol” runner-up Jessica Sanchez, the All-American Boys Chorus and jazz musician Steve Tyrell.
During the course of the three days, the devoted supporters were honored, celebrated even, for their work raising money for City of Hope.  Their events – galas, fashion shows, walks and more – have been a cornerstone of the institution’s philanthropic efforts. They remain so today.
Such a gathering of chapter members was last held in 2007, but this commemoration had the added significance, and symbolism, of City of Hope’s Centennial. Founded 100 years ago, City of Hope owes its very existence to volunteers. Those early visionaries raised funds for the 10 acres of land purchased in 1913 in Duarte, Calif., for a tuberculosis sanatorium.  That sanatorium became City of Hope.
Volunteers at the Centennial Convention reflected not just on the progress they’ve fueled – through the transformative power of philanthropy – but also on the next 100 years.


Profile - Elaine Bloom of Illinois

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Nicole White
In 1961, Elaine Bloom – then wife of Jimmy Bloom and mother of an 18-month-old – moved from Boston to Chicago when her husband’s job transferred him. But it wasn’t until a few years later that she found her home there.
That was when she was invited to a membership meeting for City of Hope’s Chicago fund-raising chapter.
“I joined without anything, without any connection,” she said. “I just said yes. Since then, my friends became my family for all these years … Once City of Hope gets in your blood, it stays. It’s absolutely a family.”

Bloom, whose husband frequently travelled for work, quickly dove into her volunteer duties, and in time, held every chapter office available to her, from treasurer to a long run as president. Her efforts earned her a Louis Tabak Award from City of Hope, an honor that recognizes volunteers for their dedication and positive influence on local chapters.
Eight years ago, Bloom was invited to serve on City of Hope’s ambassador leadership council, a group of eight volunteers from chapters across the country. The council connects the local chapters with the lifesaving work happening at City of Hope, organizing the national convention and other events. Bloom puts it: “We argue. We love each other, and we get lots of things accomplished.”
In recent months, the council has been focused on the national convention, held June 21 to 23. Hundreds of volunteers – who throw galas and fashion shows, walks and more to raise money for cancer research and treatment – got an up-close look at the fruits of their labors. The convention itself took place at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, but it included tours of City of Hope.
“We’re going to have one of the best conventions ever,” Bloom said beforehand. “It’s City of Hope’s centennial, and we bring the people in to see what it’s all about.”
Bloom said she’s participated in more fundraising efforts than she can recall. The highlights include 21 years of running a bingo night and 18 years participating in the Walk for Hope in Chicago with a team called Mara’s Hope. Mara is the name of a team member whose daughter had breast cancer, and over the years, has been one of the top fund-raising teams in the country.
In addition to being like family to Bloom, City of Hope has become a family tradition. Her children and grandchildren have their own Walk for Home teams, and they banded together with others to form a new City of Hope volunteer chapter: Lifeline Chicago.  Bloom’s children Lauri Kaplan, Debbie Jutzi and Scott Bloom were among the group’s first members.
Asked how much money her efforts and those of her fellow Chicago chapter volunteers have raised, Bloom estimates around $2 million – but she doesn’t keep a running tally of her individual efforts. She’s more focused on why the money is so important: fighting diseases that have claimed and affected the lives of so many.
Of all the changes Bloom has witnessed in her decades of volunteering, the acceleration of cancer research has made the biggest impression on her.
“When I first came into City of Hope, every hospital out there had scientists and doctors working to find things, but it was their own things,” she said. “Now, everyone shares, and that is the only way we’re ever going to find a solution to so many of these diseases. It’s amazing how much everyone shares and collaborates with each other, and maybe that will be the breakthrough that we need so desperately.”

Profile - Rhoda Ehrlich of Florida

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
While living in Manhattan during the 1960s, Rhoda Ehrlich had heard about City of Hope through local chapters raising money for the cancer research hospital near Los Angeles.

Rhoda Ehrlich
She would never suspect that in 1965, she would lose her own 19-year-old daughter, Phyllis Dropkin, to a malignant brain tumor.

To honor her daughter, and help find a cure for the disease that took her life, Ehrlich’s friends formed their own fundraising chapter for City of Hope.  “A good many of us lived on East End Avenue – on the upper east side of New York on the East River.  We decided to call it the East End Chapter/Phyllis Dropkin Foundation.”
The activity helped her navigate the fog of grief, Ehrlich recalled.
“I have to tell you in all honesty, getting myself so thoroughly involved learning about the work that was being done at City of Hope, I got caught up in it – the feeling that I could help another mother.” 

In 1973, due to her husband Seymour’s heart condition, they moved to Sunny Isles, Fla. (near South Beach).  That same year, the couple flew to City of Hope, where Seymour Ehrlich underwent heart bypass surgery that gave him another 26 years of life.

After moving to Florida, Ehrlich continued her fundraising efforts for City of Hope, establishing the Phyllis Dropkin chapter, one of the oldest existing chapters in the area.  Since its inception, it has raised more than $3.5 million.

Today, Ehrlich is president of City of Hope’s South East Region, which encompasses Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 

She recently attended City of Hope’s Centennial Convention, adding that she's been to every City of Hope convention since 1967, when “I wanted to see what I was so actively supporting.”  Nearly 46 years later, she still remembers her first impressions of the “low buildings,” lush gardens and the beautiful campus which was “more like a lovely spa than a hospital.” 

She also remembers the labs where she met researchers whose work promised to save other children.

“The conventions were wonderful,” said Ehrlich. “They gave opportunity to people who were active in the City of Hope but had never seen it, so it was very inspirational for them to visit the hospital to have actual contact with doctors and scientists. They would come back to South Florida and be able to relate personally. We weren’t talking about a myth; there is this wonderful place.”

In view of the fierce competition for charity dollars, it might have been a difficult sell – but not for Ehrlich. “There were hospitals here in South Miami. Of course, none of them could actually compete with what City of Hope was doing – trying to find cures for catastrophic diseases.”

Over the years, Ehrlich has persuaded myriad people to become generous supporters of City of Hope.

Some are moved to donate when they meet patients. “It’s always very meaningful to meet someone who was told they weren’t going to live, then came to City of Hope and were cured,” she said.

These days, the chapters must not only compete with other charities, but with time.  “A lot of chapters have been abandoned because of the age of the members,” Ehrlich said.

There has also been a dramatic cultural paradigm shift since the days when “mother was the homemaker, and daddy went out to work,” Ehrlich said. Today, both are often involved in careers and can’t devote as much time to philanthropic activities, she points out. 

Yet, thanks to traditions instilled in countless households, younger generations are still taking time to support this organization that their parents sustained. Ehrlich’s daughter, Cheryl Borek, for instance, who lives in Jacksonville, came to the convention.  Ehrlich’s son, Charles, who lives in Miami, couldn't make it to the convention but “he has been very helpful in recruiting money for City of Hope for me,” she said.  
New generations of City of Hope supporters are sharing the news of how discoveries in the laboratory are more quickly translated to patients.
“Lives are saved here and all over the world because of what goes on in Duarte,” said Ehrlich. 


Profile - Bonnie Fein of California

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
During the 1930s, Bonnie Fein’s grandmother Bessie Kaplan kept a coin box in her Boyle Heights, Calif., home in which she collected money for a tuberculosis sanatorium called City of Hope.

“At that time, Jews were denied treatment at other hospitals, but they were treating them at City of Hope,” Fein said.

When Fein’s parents, Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan, were newly married, they played cards with other couples, and taking Bessie’s charitable cue, started donating their proceeds to City of Hope.  Before long, they joined a fund-raising auxiliary for the hospital called the Sportsmen’s Club.

“The big thing for women involved with City of Hope was the Sportsmen’s Club Women’s Luncheon held in Beverly Hills,” Fein said. It was such a hot ticket that it evolved into three consecutive days of luncheons that sold out every day. “We’re talking 1,000 people a day – Jewish, white, Asian, black. They used to put on their fanciest suits and hats and come to this luncheon.”

Fein remembers the first time she accompanied her mother to the event. “They asked me – because I was this cute little girl in a party dress – if I would sell raffle tickets. It’s the first time I remember I was instrumental in doing something on my own for City of Hope. That was my introduction.” 

Throughout the years, Fein continued to raise funds for City of Hope. She now serves on the Ambassador Leadership Council, and is a current member of the Board of Governors and Board of Regents. Her family too has maintained its support for City of Hope, bestowing major financial gifts, the most recent of which launched construction of the Kaplan Family Pavilion, due for completion in January.
This gateway for City of Hope will house an assembly hall for visiting groups, as well as an exhibition hall for historical memorabilia and displays of new scientific accomplishments. The nearly 8,000 square-foot-pavilion will sit near the original 10-acre parcel on which City of Hope began in 1913.  

At the pavilion’s groundbreaking ceremony last January, at which City of Hope and Rosalie Kaplan were celebrated for turning 100, Fein explained to the audience what was expected of her and her brothers Michael and Steven.

“We were taught from a very early age that if we were lucky enough to have financial resources that we should live a good, productive and enjoyable life, but balance it with a life of helping others and working for the greater good.”
This spirit of giving was part of the family DNA, yet what became second nature was also nurtured by Fein's parents. Arthur Kaplan, who co-founded and presided over the development firm KB Management, decided that one Thanksgiving, he would take his children to a local orphanage he helped support. “My father said, ‘You need to eat with the kids, to see what their Thanksgiving is like because they don’t have families.’”
“My parents wanted us to understand that not everybody’s as blessed as we are,” Fein said. “That’s the culture we were raised in, where being charitable, giving back, is as fundamental as going to school or any other ritual you have in your life.”

“Mom and Dad came from humble beginnings, but as they made money, the money they gave away increased as well,” Fein said.

“Deciding to build this new building was never seen as an obligation but rather our continuing commitment to help an institution that nurtures, cares for and treats the ill in their time of greatest need,”   Fein told the audience at the Pavilion groundbreaking.  “Our father, Arthur Kaplan, was one of those people.”

When Arthur Kaplan was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1981, he was told by a physician that he had only about four months to live and that he should get his affairs in order.  Instead, he went to City of Hope for a second opinion. Under the care of Lucille Leong, M.D., he soon began taking the then-new drug Interferon. He lived almost four additional years.

“We attribute that to the City of Hope, because otherwise, he would have gone home, packed it in, and waited to die,” Fein said. “When he went to the City of Hope, he really did have hope.  When you get a diagnosis of cancer, hope is the first thing that’s easy to lose. City of Hope gives it back to you.”

“I don’t know any institution anywhere in the country or the world that treats people with the kind of dignity that City of Hope does,” Fein said.

During the ensuing four years, Fein said her father “had a lot of enjoyment.”  He spent time on his boat, saw his children marry, and welcomed new grandchildren (who have since grown up into a fourth generation of City of Hope supporters).
His medical reprieve also gave him time to travel. “For my mother’s 70th birthday, we went as a family on a trip to Europe,” recalled Fein.  “We have a lot of good memories as a family.”

Her father’s extra years proved to be a turning point for Fein. “That’s when I said, ‘If there’s anything I can do for City of Hope in my powers, I will do it.’ When you’re given a gift as wonderful as City of Hope gave me, I owe them and I always will,” Fein said.

Profile - Lisa Fuld of New York

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
Lisa Kaye Fuld first heard about City of Hope while growing up in the heart of “Mad Men” country – 1960s New York. 

Her parents, Randy and Jeanne Kaye, who both were in the fashion industry, belonged to “The Mr. and Mrs. League,” a chapter that raised money for City of Hope through couples’ events such as dances and supper club concerts.
Though that chapter dissolved, her mother re-engaged with City of Hope in the 1970s through the East End Chapter/ Phyllis Dropkin Foundation, and eventually became its president.  
“My mother and her friends were a significant force,” Fuld said.  “They raised a lot of money through the Spring Woman of the Year luncheons.”  Along with her sister, Kathy, Fuld began her involvement in the chapter when she was conscripted to assemble gift bags for the luncheon. When Fuld was in college her mother would buy a table at the luncheon and invite Fuld and her friends to populate it.  “It was sort of mandatory attendance,” she recalled with a smile. 

In 1986, Jeanne Kaye was diagnosed with bladder cancer, a struggle she lost in 1988. Following her death, her friends approached Fuld and her sister, seeking their help recharging the chapter by recruiting more young people.  In 1992, “we managed to gather 15 women” who became part of the East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League. Like her mother, Fuld became the group’s president.

Today, the East End Chapter/Jeanne Kaye League has evolved into an organization of more than 500 New York women representing all facets of the city’s business, philanthropic and cultural communities. Their annual Spirit of Life Spring Luncheon held at the Plaza is regarded as City of Hope’s signature East Coast event. Past honorees have included celebrities such as Katie Couric, Cindy Crawford, Brooke Shields and Meredith Vieira, as well as executives from companies such as Disney and Universal Music.

Fuld and her fellow board members sought to expand and reinvigorate the East End chapter by creating two pipelines for younger members. They invited their own children along with other students in private schools in New York to become “Teens for Hope.”

They subsequently launched “Future of Hope,” made up of former Teens for Hope who had graduated from college and begun their careers (including Fuld’s children Jamie, now 26, and Ryan, 24). The group has been raising money and exposure for City of Hope through its own trademark fundraiser, the Halloween Ball.

“My kids have known about City of Hope since they were little,” Fuld said, recalling their days as trick-or-treaters passing out penny rolls for City of Hope.  “I was trying to engage them and get them involved in doing something for good and to help other people,” she said.  She wanted to create the same lifelong bond with City of Hope that her mother had instilled in her.

When her children were young, Fuld and her husband took them to California to tour the City of Hope campus. They found the experience so meaningful that Fuld later invited eight chapter board members on a “road trip” to Duarte to personally experience the place they had been promoting for years.   

“Even though they understand and they read and they know everybody’s out there working together, City of Hope is very far away,” Fuld said.  Meeting City of Hope researchers and seeing their laboratories was transformative.  “It was really important because it’s very hard to engage people in something they can’t see, touch or feel.”

She remembers the visit vividly, including their hard-hat tour of the under-construction Helford Clinical Research Hospital. “Everybody came back just totally inspired, totally understanding what they were doing.  Now it was something they truly could believe in, talk about and understand.”

As she deepened her involvement with City of Hope as a member of its Ambassador Leadership Council, Fuld has been eager to return to the Duarte campus where she and fellow conventioneers were inspired once again by the City of Hope story.

Profile - Sheldon Greenberg of San Diego

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Denise Heady
San Diego-area businessman Sheldon “Shelly” Greenberg has not been personally affected by cancer – nor has anyone in his family. And yet, for 50 years, Greenberg has dedicated his time and resources to City of Hope, raising millions of dollars for research and to help patients get the treatment they need to survive.
Because of his outstanding efforts, Greenberg was presented with the Izzy Freeman Award at the 2013 City of Hope Convention. The award is given to a City of Hope chapter member who has represented the City of Hope in the highest manner with fervor, integrity and dedication above and beyond the performance of all other outstanding members.
Not only has Greenberg’s contributions resulted in significant philanthropic benefits for City of Hope, his leadership has been an inspiration to his fund-raising counterparts and to others within the organization.
“It’s an honor that my efforts have been recognized,” Greenberg said. “Not for personal gratification, but because these efforts have helped make a difference in people’s lives. I hope everyone can learn that even one person projecting their efforts can make a difference.”
The Chicago native first became involved with the City of Hope in 1959 when he was a member of the Illinois Liquor Association, then a City of Hope industry council.
Greenberg was later honored by the council with the Spirit of Life Award, the highest award given by City of Hope’s industry group. Funds from that gala helped fund one of the first bone marrow transplants at City of Hope.
In 1998, after moving to the San Diego area, Greenberg re-opened City of Hope’s San Diego regional office, raising almost $25,000 in the first year. Since then, that office has raised millions of dollars for City of Hope, yielding impressive results amid a tight overall economy. 
Greenberg not only has raised money through large events and corporate donations, he’s also made significant personal contributions, donating more than $1 million directly to City of Hope. This year, Greenberg committed to a $100,000 gift in support of the Arthur and Rosalie Kaplan Family Pavilion. Further, his three children and their families are paying tribute to his commitment with a $10,000 gift, set to be memorialized in City of Hope’s rose garden.
Greenberg is currently a member of the Ambassador Leadership Council at City of Hope, for which he was one of the founding members, and has sat on City of Hope’s Board of Governors.
Greenberg says he’s committed to City of Hope because he knows his efforts are helping change the lives of others.
“The fact that I am able to help hundreds of people get treatment is a big part of why I do this,” he added.

Profile - Don Hoffman of California

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
When Don Hoffman learned the startling news that he had breast cancer, his doctor asked if he needed a referral for an oncologist.

Hoffman declined the offer. “I’m going to City of Hope,” he said.

Hoffman, now 74, had been involved with City of Hope ever since he was a teenager volunteering at its fundraising events. “It was the charity of choice for my parents so it was the charity of choice for me,” recalled Hoffman, a resident of Northridge, Calif.
His father, Irving, a production manager in the garment industry, served as president of the Merchants’ Club (now the Apparel Industries Guild) and also created table decorations for its events. He recruited Hoffman and his sister to staff registration tables.

During Hoffman’s career in the furniture industry, manufacturers donated furniture each year for sales that benefitted City of Hope. Hoffman volunteered to run those sales.

He escalated his involvement over the years, serving on City of Hope’s Board of Governors and then on its Board of Directors. In 2004, he joined the Ambassador Leadership Council, where he helped retool City of Hope’s 2007 convention and re-energize City of Hope’s fund-raising chapters.
One of their best-received initiatives was the Tour of Hope, in which doctors and staff, as well as patients whose lives had been saved at City of Hope, traveled to chapters around the country to tell their stories in person.

Back in December 2010, when his internist confirmed that the areola on Hoffman’s left breast was suspiciously flat, he underwent a mammogram and needle biopsy, revealing a Stage One nodule so tiny (1.6 centimeters – the size of a thumbnail) that he says his doctor was amazed he discovered it.

At City of Hope, he came under the care of oncologist Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director of the Women's Cancers Program at City of Hope and surgeon Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the  Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center at City of Hope .  Undergoing a successful mastectomy of his left breast in March 2011, Hoffman has been taking the hormone-blocking medication tamoxifen ever since. 

Today, aside from occasional side effects such as night sweats and hot flashes (which he says endears him to women), he is doing well.

From the start, Hoffman has been open about his illness.  After his diagnosis, he e-mailed fellow males on City of Hope’s Board of Governors, suggesting that they man up about their health. “…As a man, you have to realize you are vulnerable, as well. Whatever is bothering you, take care of it.” 
A number of colleagues later told him he had prompted them to seek medical treatment for conditions they had been ignoring.

He makes a practice to wear one of City of Hope’s pink breast cancer awareness pins on the collar of his golf shirt and welcomes questions from the curious, be they male or female.  “It’s amazing how many people will say, ‘Isn’t that a breast cancer pin? Why are you wearing that?’”

“I get the opportunity to say that I’m one of the one half of one percent of diagnosed breast cancers per year that are men.”  The American Cancer Society estimates that 2,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in men this year.
Though Hoffman retired 22 years ago, the father of three eschews idle moments.  Instead, he makes his time count, dividing his hours between his family, his work on behalf of City of Hope, and a hobby he has relished for decades: square dancing.
He and his wife, Lois, started taking square dance classes back in 1968 when she told him she was tired of watching “Get Smart” reruns on Saturday nights.  These days, the duo often can be found traveling the country to participate in both square and “round” (ballroom) dance festivals.

Because cancer runs in his family, and because he is of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, Hoffman underwent genetic testing at City of Hope for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 mutation to determine whether his children and grandchildren would require testing.  He did not have the mutation.

Hoffman returned yet again to City of Hope for the Centennial Convention, where he led campus  tours for conventioneers from across the U.S.,  and introduced them to researchers in the laboratories. 

One of those laboratory researchers was his granddaughter, Lauren Hoffman, who represents the fourth-generation of the Hoffman family committed to City of Hope.

Profile - Bobbie Stern of Washington state

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
Bobbie Meltzer Stern’s family has supported City of Hope for five generations – beginning in 1928 when her grandparents, Abe and Razel Rosenfeld, helped found the Portland Builders of Health chapter in Oregon.

Bobbie Stern
A member of City of Hope’s Board of Regents, Stern remembers hearing about the moment the philanthropic torch was first passed to a new generation in her family: her mother, Fern Rosenfeld Meltzer.  In 1950, the Rosenfelds and daughter Fern attended a fundraiser for City of Hope in Murietta Hot Springs, Calif.  After writing a check to City of Hope, Rosenfeld turned to his daughter and said, “OK, now, it’s your turn.”  

“He verbally turned over the reins of leadership to my mother, who proudly accepted the challenge,” Stern said. In 1951, Meltzer founded the Seattle Cancer Guild, which became the Seattle Chapter of City of Hope. 

The chapters were instrumental to the growth of City of Hope, particularly in the early days, Stern said. “There were over 570 active chapters throughout the country when I started,” she said. “It was a huge support network fondly called The People’s Movement – and it was.  Volunteers nationwide raised thousands of dollars and donated hundreds of hours of valuable time.”
As a child, Stern remembered the contagious enthusiasm of those coming to her home to talk about raising money for a hospital she had never seen and a place she had never heard of – City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. “They were raising money to maintain compassionate, free patient care, always believing: ‘If you’re sick, I should help you; if I’m sick, you should help me.’”

When she was only 9 years old, Stern began taking donation canisters to downtown Seattle, urging strangers to contribute to City of Hope. In high school, she began Donnez Nous, a guild of the Seattle chapter. “We were just kids. We didn’t know how to raise money.” 
Yet the “DNs” were deeply motivated – and highly resourceful. One of their first fundraisers involved holding a dessert and fashion show in one of their homes, where they made their own desserts, modeled their own clothes and charged each other for admission. 

After college, Stern founded, and became the first president of, the Donnez Nous chapter in 1963, which was made up mostly of young couples from Bellevue and Mercer Island whose parents were actively involved in the Seattle Chapter. 
“We went gangbusters!” recalled Stern. After inviting their friends to join, she and the other members  soon began outdoing one another with creative fundraising ideas – including fur and lingerie fashion shows, casino nights, kids’ fashion shows, carnivals, athletic events with local celebrities, “no-party parties,” singing telegrams, and cookbooks replete with ads to cover the costs. 

The concept of appreciating both large – and small – donations  was championed by  former City of Hope Chief Executive Officer  Ben Horowitz. “’You need the few dollars from the many, as well as the many dollars from the few,’ he’d say.  He valued the nickels and dimes as well as the big donations because he knew that someday those nickels and dimes would turn into larger gifts.  He taught us to value everybody’s donation,” Stern recalled. “’Every gift is important and every volunteer is a treasure.’” 

Today, many healthcare institutions tout their holistic approach, but City of Hope was one of the first to practice this philosophy, Stern said, citing City of Hope’s credo emblazoned on its Golter Gate: “There is no profit in curing the body, if in the process we destroy the soul.” “This philosophy of caring for the whole person has always been part of City of Hope’s DNA, and I hope it never diminishes,” Stern said.

She is motivated to carry on her work not only by this compassionate philosophy, but also by the cutting-edge science at City of Hope. She remembers the excitement generated when City of Hope geneticist Arthur Riggs, Ph.D., now director emeritus of Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, helped synthesize the human insulin gene, leading to the creation of synthetic human insulin. “To be part of something that changes science,” said Stern, “how awesome is that?”

During the more than 60 years she has been promoting the institution, Stern has personally met and heard countless stories about patients who have been saved at City of Hope – after other hospitals declared their cases hopeless. “What they’re really saying is that they can’t help you, but what I say is don’t give up,” she advises those with dire diagnoses. “Get another opinion at City of Hope.”

Stern’s son and two daughters have shared her support of City of Hope over the years, and now her grandchildren have joined the cause, ringing doorbells for the Seattle Walk for Hope, just as Stern did as a child. Her husband, Michel, also has been a consistently invaluable fundraiser for the Walk. Quietly recruiting his friends to sponsor him, he has become the event’s  top fundraiser each year.  

A tireless fundraiser, Stern has raised millions of dollars for City of Hope through individual donors and corporations. She was the youngest person ever elected to serve on the Board of Directors, and was named to City of Hope’s “Gallery of Achievement,” the most prestigious honor the medical center can bestow on a lay leader.

“To this day, I really believe that we can and are making a difference in the lives of people worldwide," Stern said. "My goal is to be alive when the cancer breakthrough happens.”

Profile - Edith Susselman of Florida

With the Centennial Convention celebrating City of Hope's volunteer fund-raisers, we take this opportunity to highlight a few...
By Roberta Nichols
When Edith Susselman reflects back on her 96 years, she recalls the persuasive powers of her late friend, Bernice Chernove, who not only introduced Susselman to her future husband, Jacob, but also to her future philanthropy of choice, City of Hope. 

Edith Susselman
Edith and Bernice met growing up in New York. After Bernice married David Chernove and moved to California, Edith came to visit – and stayed. The Susselmans lived in Beverly Hills for 35 years.

When the Chernoves moved from Los Angeles to Florida in 1980, “Bernice kept trying to convince me and my husband to move there.”  Bernice had learned about a cancer research hospital in California called City of Hope and was so inspired that she started a fund-raising chapter on its behalf. She would serve as its president for 26 years. 

The Susselmans came to visit the Chernoves during City of Hope’s New Year’s Weekend in 1992. Intending to stay only a few days, they instead bought a home near their friends in Coconut Creek, about 40 miles from Miami. “It just happened at the right time,” she said.  “Where we were in California, while the surroundings were beautiful, a lot of our friends were leaving – one way or the other.”
“Florida was great. We had all the amenities you want, college around the corner, all kinds of classes and clubs. Everybody here at that time was like, instant friendship. When I moved here, Bernice didn’t wait two minutes,” said Susselman with a laugh. “I had to join the chapter.” 
Today, as then, some initially may join the organization to make new friends in the Florida social scene, but many eventually transform into devoted champions for City of Hope, Susselman said.
Recruiting new donors is challenging given the number of competing charities and causes. “That’s still become a big problem here,” she said from her home in Florida. “We have people say to us all the time, ‘Why should we become active in someplace in California, when there are so many charities here?’
“The argument is it’s the research that’s disseminated all over the world, not just in California. There are many people right here in Florida being helped by medications that came out of the City of Hope,” Susselman said.
When she meets new people, she often asks, “Do you belong to City of Hope? If you don’t, why don’t you? Is there anybody you know who isn’t affected in some way by cancer?”
“I know a few people who have been cured at City of Hope,” Susselman said.  When speaking to potential donors, "we say that we ourselves are very impressed with it,” she said. “A very large percentage of what we collect goes to research and to the hospital.”
In 2011, Susselman was honored with a leadership award by City of Hope’s Florida regional office for raising more than half a million dollars for City of Hope. The chapter hosts a variety of fundraisers throughout the year, including card parties, outings to the Hard Rock Café, luncheons and cruises.
Since its inception the Bernice Chernove Wynmoor Chapter has raised nearly $2 million for City of Hope.  
It promises to remain thriving thanks to members like Susselman, who continues to lead by example.  She not only has helped secure numerous gifts for City of Hope, but “I’ve put my money where my mouth is by creating charitable gift annuities and making a bequest to City of Hope.  You can put money into a fund where you get very good interest and a tax deduction,” she added.
Susselman lost her husband, Jacob, in 2002 and dear friend Bernice in 2006, but keeps busy investing her time in City of Hope. 
Only days before the Centennial Convention, she said she was looking forward to coming to City of Hope to reunite with fellow fundraisers and get first-hand progress reports from researchers that she can take back to Florida. 
Susselman, who has had a double mastectomy and colon cancer, says she has great faith in the work being done at City of Hope. “The feeling you get about the hospital is that the patients come first,” she said.
“I believe that the researchers at City of Hope will be the ones to cure cancer,” Susselman said.
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