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When Sally Coates called to say that our Affiliate had nominated me for the jill Ireland Award for Volunteerism, 1 was at a loss for words. After she went on to say that the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation had selected me to receive this honor 1 was completely speechless.
Being unable to think of anything to say was a totally new experience for me, and as an academic, 1 naturally had to analyze this phenomenon Two explanations surfaced First, with more than 40,000 talented and dedicated Komen volunteers across the USA., it is extremely humbling to be singled out for recognition. Second, volunteering for Komen is itself so rewarding that no additional reward is needed.
Understanding why 1 had been tongue-tied when Sally called made me fear that this might happen again when the award was presented. Deciding that 1 better pull a few thoughts, together, 1 began to jot down key words about volunteering. 1 noted that many of these words started with the letter "c" and so began playing with that idea. Here is the result.
We volunteer because we care for someone with breast cancer - a family member, a friend, our self. As try to provide comfort and cheer, we communicate our concern and compassion to others. Because this disease affects so many, our contacts quickly expand, crossing boundaries of age, gender, race, culture and distance. These connections provide the context for collaboration. Soon we are on a Komen committee. United by our commitment to a common cause, we combine our talents and channel our energies to complete challenging tasks. Each success develops our capabilities, our confidence, and our courage to do more. We convince our colleagues to join us, and we connect with corporations, clinics, other charitable organizations, and countless other community groups Our fundraising becomes more clever and we collect more cash. Concurrently, we catalog and address critical community needs through creative grant making. As this cycle continues, we become more candid and cohesive, our efforts become more comprehensive, and our credibility grows. We raise consciousness in our community, build its capacity to respond, and catalyze positive change. In concert with Affiliates throughout the country, we champion our survivors, commemorate loved ones we have lost, and support research for a cure. Each of us contributes whatever we can and collectively we make an impact.
The Jill Ireland award celebrates this amazing collaborative effort. 1 thank you for this honor in the same spirit of heartfelt camaraderie.
This article originally appeared in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation newsletter in April 2001.
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