Angelos Summer 2012 : Page 48
Charity Begins at Work Larrie Del Daniel Martin, president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, addresses a group of volunteers at a home-construction site. By Sherry Egan Anderson, Angelos Editor Kappa Delta is known in the Greek world as the “philanthropy sorority,” so it’s only natural that many KDs have chosen vocations that enable them to help others. Here’s a sampling of their stories. Larrie Del Daniel Martin, President/CEO, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity atlantahabitat.org “The great American dream is to own a home,” says Gloria, an Atlanta Habitat for Human-ity homeowner who began her journey with the organization 12 years ago. “My life changed … it gave me a sense of ownership and community,” she reports in “Homefront,” a newsletter published for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity supporters. Today her family is on solid ground with a granddaughter in college and a younger grandchild, who lives with her, enjoying elementary school and gym-nastics. “Homeownership is one of the keys that opens the door to a brighter future for families, particularly the children,” says Larrie Del Daniel Martin, an Alpha Delta-Rhodes Photo: Jeani Elbaum 48 | THE ANGELOS OF KAPPA DELTA kappadelta.org
Charity Begins at Work
Sherry Egan Anderson, Angelos Editor
Kappa Delta is known in the Greek world as the "philanthropy sorority," so it's only natural that many KDs have chosen vocations that enable them to help others. Here's a sampling of their stories.<br /> <br /> Larrie Del Daniel Martin, President/CEO, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity atlantahabitat.org<br /> <br /> "The great American dream is to own a home" says Gloria, an Atlanta Habitat for Humanity homeowner who began her journey with the organization 12 years ago. "My life changed . . . it gave me a sense of ownership and community" she reports in<br /> <br /> "Homefront" a newsletter published for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity supporters. Today her family is on solid ground with a granddaughter in college and a younger grandchild, who lives with her, enjoying elementary school and gymnastics.<br /> <br /> "Homeownership is one of the keys that opens the door to a brighter future for families, particularly the children" says Larrie Del Daniel Martin, an Alpha Delta-Rhodes alumna and president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity for more than 15 years. "Working with Atlanta Habitat provides us all a special opportunity to help families help themselves . I am most proud of the hundreds of families who have made a decision to provide a better life for their children through our program."<br /> <br /> I am most proud of the hundreds of families who have made a decision to provide a better life for their children through our program."<br /> <br /> - Larrie Del Daniel Martin<br /> <br /> Atlanta Habitat, founded in 1983 as a nonprofit housing organization, has built or renovated more than 1,200 environmentally friendly houses in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The organization depends on charitable support – more than 14,000 volunteers, donors and sponsors last year alone – but homeowners must also contribute 250 sweat-equity hours helping build their homes and those of other families. Atlanta Habitat provides and services no-interest loans, and home- buyers pay a monthly mortgage of less than $600. They also enter a one-year lease before closing on their homes.<br /> <br /> During this year, they attend "Home Smart," the Atlanta Habitat education program, and satisfy sweat-equity requirements as they transition from renters to homeowners.<br /> <br /> "Our program at Atlanta Habitat is about much more than building a house with those families; it is about creating successful homeowners," Larrie Del says. "We require a minimum of 12 education classes that include important information from financial to maintenance to community involvement."<br /> <br /> As president and CEO, Larrie Del says, "I wear many different hats during the day, depending on the focus." She works Monday through Saturday meeting with staff and donors, visiting sites and keeping up with paper work. She spearheaded two capital campaigns that raised $9.75 million, providing a land bank for building future homes and funding to endow faith-based builds.<br /> <br /> She manages an annual budget of $8.2 million and oversees the work in a 95,000-square-foot facility that houses Atlanta Habitat's offices, education area, warehouse and ReStore, a discount retail store for home-improvement items. "One of my last major goals at our organization," Larrie Del says, "is creating a future, permanent home for our mission – just down the street from our present, leased facility."<br /> <br /> Atlanta Habitat has consistently held a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, demonstrating the highest level of fiscal responsibility. Larrie Del also has received numerous honors, including the 2004 John H. Allen Humanitarian Award from Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, the YWCA 2007 Academy of Women Achievers and Business to Business 2011 Women of Excellence. Progressive Redevelopment Inc. recognized her as a "Housing Hero" in its 2010 history of Atlanta's affordable housing.<br /> <br /> Larrie Del credits Kappa Delta for providing her with the opportunity at Rhodes to participate in many activities, assume leadership roles and "get to know wonderful people from a variety of backgrounds and to appreciate both similarities and differences." She encourages collegians who are interested in careers in the nonprofit sector to volunteer often and with different types of organizations to get a feel for their cultures and missions. She says, "The nonprofit world needs capable young folks!"<br /> <br /> Christy Zeitz Eaton, Executive Director, HomeAid Northern Virginia, homeaidnova.org<br /> <br /> Before Christy Zeitz Eaton, Beta Phi-West Virginia, started work four years ago for HomeAid Northern Virginia, she says the word 'homeless' meant to her "the guy on the street corner in tattered clothes begging for money." And then she saw the effect of 2008's economic crash.<br /> <br /> "I've since learned that the homeless community is much broader, and that man, while homeless and in need of assistance, represents a very small portion of today's homeless," Christy says. The typical homeless person today is employed and part of a family that includes several children.<br /> <br /> "In Northern Virginia, the estimated 5,000 homeless people are working minimum-wage jobs that do not allow them the income they need to live in this metropolitan area. The lack of affordable housing is a major factor in people becoming homeless."<br /> <br /> HomeAid Northern Virginia works directly with shelter organizations and home builders to lead construction and renovation on homeless shelters or transitional housing owned/operated by the shelter organizations. Christy's job is to match a partner builder with a shelter project, finding the right fit so that the project will move forward smoothly. "HomeAid is here to help the shelter make good decisions and help the builder understand the needs of the shelter so that the best home for a homeless family will be the final outcome of everyone's efforts" Christy says.<br /> <br /> Since 2008, Christy has seen the demand for Home- Aid's services increase, but there are fewer new construction projects due to tougher financing requirements. The focus has turned to renovation projects. Many shelter organizations have received federal and state funding to purchase foreclosed homes and have turned those into transitional housing for families. The shelter organizations have called on HomeAid to undertake the renovations needed in these homes; some are in major disrepair.<br /> <br /> Christy is regularly on the road going to a property owned by a shelter that is in need of renovation or one already under way to see how the work is going. She meets the families who will be living in the homes and hosts a dedication ceremony for each house. Christy says, "They are challenged every day for some of the basic necessities we take for granted . . . seeing the smiles on their faces tells us that the homes we're providing are exactly what they need to get their lives stabilized and on the right track"<br /> <br /> At the end of each project, the organization also hosts a celebratory luncheon for the builder captain and trade partners. "Showing them that we appreciate all their effort – and all the cost savings – is a very important part of my job" she says. – Christy is responsible for seeking strategic partners and fundraising. In some cases, the builder captain and trade partners are unable to donate 100 percent of the project costs, and HomeAid must raise funds to help cover the cost. In addition, HomeAid makes periodic donations to shelter organizations and hosts a baseball night for families from the shelters.<br /> <br /> The Washington Post interviewed Christy and featured HomeAid Northern Virginia in November 2011, and TV Station WUSA applauded the organization's efforts in a segment on local heroes. All accolades aside, Christy hopes that this coverage will increase awareness of the homeless problem in America.<br /> <br /> "The general public doesn't recognize that the person next to them in the grocery store or on the Metro or walking down the street may be homeless or struggling to find shelter" Christy says. "They may look 'normal,' but their lives may be upside down because they recently lost their homes or were unable to pay their monthly rent and now what are they supposed to do? Regardless of how or why people become homeless, there should be a safe, stable place for them to go at night and services to help them get their lives back together"<br /> <br /> Christy explains that children living in a homeless situation are at a higher risk for poverty and homelessness when they are adults. "The impact of not knowing where you will sleep at night, not having a quiet place to do homework, and not having the food you need to maintain your brain power and energy has an incredible negative impact on children and their ability to do well at school and in social situations. We must break the cycle of homelessness so that future generations can have the opportunity to live safe, stable, happy lives"<br /> <br /> As a young child, Christy was taught to help those in need and befriend the person who has no friends. As a collegian, she participated in the opportunities that Kappa Delta provided to help local people in need and to help raise money for local and national causes. Since graduating, Christy has worked for nonprofit organizations and two presidential campaigns.<br /> <br /> "My focus is to work for causes and people whom I believe in," she says. "There are improvements to be made that ultimately help people lead better lives – from the national or international policy level to the grassroots level – and I want to play a part in making things better. I can't imagine spending my time doing something where I couldn't see the tangible benefit of my efforts improving the lives of others" Christy adds, "But you don't have to work for a nonprofit to put your talents to work. Nonprofits rely on many people – volunteers, consultants, board members, strategic partners and others to help them carry out their missions. Your skills can be put to good use, and at the same time you find what you were put on this Earth to do"<br /> <br /> Cynthia Cohick Dwyer, Co-Founder, Executive Director, Cancer Support Community Delaware, cancersupportdelaware.org<br /> <br /> When a representative of the YWCA Delaware called Cynthia Cohick Dwyer earlier this year to let her know that she had been selected to receive the organization's 2012 Trailblazer Award, Cindy says she looked up the word "trailblazer" in the dictionary to see exactly what she had won. The dictionary said, "Someone who makes a new path through the wilderness"<br /> <br /> It's a fitting award for someone who has bravely entered new territory with success more than once.<br /> <br /> An initiate of Beta Theta-Penn State, Cindy's career path began as a French teacher and took a new direction into publishing where she eventually served as associate publisher of Delaware Today magazine. In 1990, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "Following a brand new path called 'cancer' was definitely not on my bucket list," Cindy says.<br /> <br /> If your goal includes making a difference in people's lives, commitment and passion will follow"<br /> <br /> - Cynthia Cohick Dwyer<br /> <br /> "After several months of sitting on a couch in our living room waiting to die, I received a book from a friend written by Dr. Harold Benjamin, founder of The Wellness Community in Santa Monica, Calif. His philosophy of taking charge of one's own recovery appealed to me. His program included weekly support groups, yoga, tai chi, nutritional and educational programs, all led by professionals and offered free of charge. Wow! I thought this was exactly what I needed. So, I called him and asked for a local facility. He said he had bad news and good news: The bad news was there were none in our area, but the good news was I could start one."<br /> <br /> Cindy co-founded The Wellness Community Delaware, which has since changed names to Cancer Support Community Delaware. She has served as its executive director since 2000. A statewide nonprofit agency, CSCD is dedicated to providing professional support services to cancer patients and their family members, all free of charge. Under her leadership, CSCD successfully completed three capital campaigns for facilities in each county of Delaware, extended statewide reach to medically underserved residents and tripled participant visits.<br /> <br /> Cindy serves on several CSC national committees and is a member of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington Rotary Club board of directors, the Small Business Board and Junior League. She is a graduate of Leadership Delaware.<br /> <br /> Cindy says she learned the following lessons through successes and setbacks over many years: "1. Set your goal. If your goal includes making a difference in people's lives, commitment and passion will follow. 2. Stay focused. Put on those blinders and make this your top priority. 3. Have no fear. My husband says I will jump off a cliff and then figure out how to use the parachute on the way down. 4. Be present. Don't expect others to do what you won't do yourself. 5. Be truthful and sincere. If you make a mistake, own it. And finally, 6. Maintain a sense of humor. A few years back, I was the first woman to be elected to chair an important committee. The CEO said to me, 'I'm at a loss. This is new to me. I don't know what to call you. Chairman? Ms. Chair? Mrs. Chairperson?' I looked at him and said, 'Why don't you just call me Cindy.'"<br /> <br /> Emily Tickle Thomas, Founder, Cancer Card Xchange, cancercardxchange.org<br /> <br /> Emily Tickle Thomas, Alpha Mu- Mississippi, also transformed her personal experience with cancer into a tangible way to help other cancer patients. Emily is the founder of Cancer Card Xchange, which provides gift cards to cancer patients.<br /> <br /> In 2007, while pregnant with her fourth son, Emily was diagnosed with oral cancer and was referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She and her husband, Joel, made the trip to Texas from their home in Collierville, Tenn. Close friends arranged for a gift card to be waiting at a local restaurant so that the couple could enjoy a night out together before Emily underwent surgery. That simple gesture, Emily says, made a lasting impression.<br /> <br /> Now cancer-free, Emily is making it possible for other cancer patients to be on the receiving end of such generosity. "My hope is that through this endeavor, other cancer patients will remember a bright spot along their journey," she says.<br /> <br /> Emily launched Cancer Card Xchange on her 40th birthday in June 2011. With a party planned, she asked guests to consider a donation to the Cancer Card Xchange in lieu of a gift for herself. "I had set a goal of 40 gift cards .we collected 75 gift cards worth approximately $1,800. I knew then that the Cancer Card Xchange was really happening, and there was no turning back."<br /> <br /> Emily set up a board of directors composed of medical personnel and community leaders, and the nonprofit has received its 501(c)(3) status, which means that all donations are tax deductible. Donations of gift cards are accepted in various amounts for restaurants, gas stations and stores, such as Wal-Mart and Target. She sends approximately $100 in gift cards to each recipient. In April, she mailed a gift to the 175th cancer patient.<br /> <br /> Emily says that donating gift cards provides a way for people to do something in a situation where they may not know what, if anything, they can do. The gift cards send a message to recipients that someone cares.<br /> <br /> "I was truly surprised when I started getting thank-you notes from recipients," Emily says. "Over and over, they say just knowing someone cares means the world when you are going through cancer. That, and that so many people are affected in some way by cancer, is what motivates me to keep going."<br /> <br /> Cameron Lee Ulrich, Director of Operations, KiDzlstFund, Kidz1stFund.com<br /> <br /> Do what makes you happy, and your calling, or niche, will come to you."<br /> - Cameron Lee Ulrich<br /> <br /> Kappa Alpha Cameron Lee Ulrich has found her calling. Since graduating from Florida State University 10 years ago, she has had more than 10 jobs, first in technology and then in politics where she changed jobs often so she could gain experience in communications, lobbying, fundraising and public policymaking. Along the way, she met Candi Fisher, wife of FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher, and this introduction led to what Cameron calls "an amazing opportunity to play a role in the fight to cure Fanconi anemia."<br /> <br /> The Fishers established KidzlstFund in 2011 after their 6-year-old son, Ethan, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disease that reduces the life expectancy of those who have the disease to an average of 24.7 years. Some live longer lives due to the efforts of the physician research community focused on the disease, which gives the Fishers and Cameron, now serving as the organization's director of operations, hope and motivation to raise awareness and funds to support this research.<br /> <br /> Fanconi anemia often is not diagnosed or is misdiagnosed due to the lack of awareness of the disease among physicians and the public. According to Cameron, the disease leads to bone marrow failure that necessitates a bone marrow or cord blood transplant, which increases a patient's chances of developing a variety of cancers at a much earlier age than the general population. Some children with Fanconi anemia have no physical manifestation of the disease, while others have a variety of health issues, including short stature, deformities of the arms and hands, kidney problems, heart defects and hearing problems.<br /> <br /> Bone marrow transplant is the most common form of treatment, yet like young Ethan, 70 percent of all patients needing a bone marrow transplant do not have a donor in their families and must rely on a national registry of marrow and umbilical-cord blood for a life-saving match.<br /> <br /> "The Fishers are not sitting back and letting this disease win, and they want to inspire others to do the same," Cameron says. "Maybe one doesn't have a family member with FA, but they still encourage everyone to say 'I fight Fanconi.' "<br /> <br /> With their battle cry sounding, Cameron and the Fishers set about learning all they needed to know about Fanconi anemia and the intricacies – the laws and responsibilities – of running a nonprofit organization. Cameron has spent the first year promoting KiDz1stFund's mission via social media, conducting bone marrow donor drives, planning fundraising events, managing volunteers and working with retail stores to sell merchandise and apparel.<br /> <br /> KiDz1stFund surpassed its initial goal of registering 1,000 people into the National Marrow Donor Program – Be The Match. "This is a great accomplishment and will hopefully save lives since a bone marrow transplant is used to treat more than 70 illnesses, not just FA," Cameron says.<br /> <br /> While at the University of Minnesota this spring for Ethan's annual appointment, the Fishers delivered a check for $500,000. The university houses the single largest Fanconi anemia treatment center in the country. Cameron says, "It was quite an exciting event, especially since Kidz1st- Fund was able to deliver the check after just six months of fundraising."<br /> <br /> The Fishers also came home with encouraging news: Ethan's bone aspiration showed no signs of further failure. He is holding steady and can even play baseball. KiDz1st-Fund will continue to "fight Fanconi."<br /> <br /> Cameron says, "Our goal for the fundraising and awareness campaign is not a dollar figure. It's a cure, so that Ethan and other kids with Fanconi anemia may lead full, happy lives."<br /> <br /> Majoring in management information systems at FSU, Cameron served Kappa Alpha chapter as treasurer and chairman of community service and philanthropy. "I never would have thought that these positions would have foreshadowed my life today," she says. Cameron advises KD collegians: "Do what makes you happy, and your calling, or niche, will come to you."
Using a screen reader? Click Here