When Kathy Dawson, 53, of Havertown, Pa., left her full-time job in human resources and talent management, she realized that she had time to do something meaningful for others outside of the corporate world while looking for another full-time career opportunity.
In 2010 she came across a recruitment listing for volunteers on Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s website, lbbc.org. Kathy, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer herself, reached out to LBBC without hesitation. She has been a volunteer ever since.
“I feel like what I do for LBBC makes a difference, and this fits into my own personal mission of always being able to make a difference in the lives of others,” Kathy says.
Asa volunteer, Kathy completes a variety of tasks, including making phone calls to applicants of the Cis B. Golder Quality of Life Grant program, a legacy award that provides small need-based grants to women in the Philadelphia area who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. During these calls, she invites women to attend LBBC’s national conferences and provides them with additional resources, such as our Guides to Understanding and information on our monthly programs. She also helps office personnel with filing and counting T-shirts for events, among other projects.
Her devotion to volunteering does not stop there: Kathy also serves as a Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer. Beyond lending her support to callers, she helps analyze call data to ensure LBBC is providing the information, services and support needed by callers. Kathy also serves as a representative of LBBC at various events and speaking engagements and for the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), an annual workplace payroll deduction giving program for federal employees. In March 2012 she was awarded the Ann Klein volunteer award for her commitment to LBBC.
Kathy volunteers for LBBC because she wants women who are diagnosed with breast cancer to have support and resources at their fingertips, and to know that lifereally does go on beyond breast cancer.
Kathywas diagnosed with stage IIA breast cancer in 1996, one month before her 36th birthday. She moved from the Philadelphia, Pa.-area to Milwaukee, Wis., about 6 weeks before her diagnosis, and she sometimes felt isolated because of how far she was from her network of family and friends. It was difficult for her to get resources and support.
“This was before the Internet was as robust as it is today, so I didn’t have much access to resource materials, support groups or assistance,” Kathy says. “It feels good to be able to talk about all the great work LBBC does for women directly impacted by breast cancer, their caregivers and others concerned about breast cancer, especially since I didn’t have that resource when I went through the experience.”
When LBBC began participating in the CFC last year, Kathy spent hours volunteering in the office and advocating in the community. She called federal agencies across the U.S. to ask when they planned to begin the CFC campaign and if they allowed organization representatives to give live presentations and discussions.
Assomeone experienced with speaking on behalf of LBBC at community events and health fairs, Kathy volunteered to represent LBBC in a CFC kick-off meeting at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office in Philadelphia, Pa. The day before the event, she injured her left foot while exercising on a treadmill. The pain in her foot was severe to the point that she could barely walk.
“I went to bed that night hoping my foot would feel better by morning, and of course that was not the case,” Kathy remembers.
Her husband, who worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration for more than 37 years and was active in the administration’s CFCs, encouraged her to go despite the pain. Kathy says representing LBBC at the event was important to her husband not only because of her experience with breast cancer, but also because several of his relatives, including his maternal grandmother and one aunt, passed away from the disease.
With that emotional push, Kathy donned her best suit — and UGG boots to cushion the pain from the bottom of her foot — before she navigated her way to downtown Philadelphia on the city’s public transportation system to get to the EEOC office.
Four nonprofit representatives were invited to attend the event and inform the nearly 30-member conference room audience about their different organizations, but only Kathy and one other representative attended. Because of this, Kathy felt even more grateful that she was able to be there to speak about LBBC’s mission as well as her personal experience with breast cancer.
Kathy appreciates these opportunities because they allow her to share with others how much LBBC does for women affected by breast cancer.
“If telling my story at the EEOC event caused even one person to donate to LBBC through the CFC — if they never thought about doing so before — I couldn’t ask for anything more,” she says.