Giving Tuesday Now

Giving Tuesday Now

 

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. At a time when we are all experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic in our own ways, generosity is what brings people together. Generosity gives everyone the power to make a positive change in the lives of others and is a fundamental value anyone can act on. Whether that means giving time, money, kindness, love, positivity, or a helping hand, your generosity plays a part in keeping us all together.

Join the #GivingTuesday movement today and together we can demonstrate how each act of generosity counts, and that it means even more when we give together.

 

INTERVIEW:  Alison Olig, Sarcoma Alliance Executive Director

INTERVIEW: Alison Olig, Sarcoma Alliance Executive Director

Alison Olig, Executive Director

Last week, Sarcoma Alliance announced that Alison Olig has been selected as our new Executive Director (ED). In preparing the questions for this first interview with Ali, I thought it would be interesting to start with the same first question I asked of retiring ED, Arthur Beckert . . . .
How much did you know about sarcoma before you started your work with Sarcoma Alliance?
Prior to volunteering with Sarcoma Alliance, most of my sarcoma knowledge came from personal experience. At the age of thirteen, I was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma. My treatment included eleven rounds of chemotherapy, five surgeries, and radiation. I am happy to share that I have been cancer-free since the end of treatment.
Through my experience with sarcoma, I developed a deep understanding of the physical, mental, and social ramifications of the disease and its treatment, both to patients and caregivers. By volunteering with the Alliance I gained a much broader understanding of sarcoma, the more than fifty subtypes, its treatments, and the various needs of those affected by connective tissue cancers.
How does being a sarcoma patient make you uniquely qualified to be the Executive Director of Sarcoma Alliance?
Two main reasons come to mind:
The first is mentioned above, in that I have a genuine clear understanding of what someone goes through as a sarcoma patient. I know what it feels like to sit in a doctor’s office and be told that I have cancer, to deal with side effects that sometimes seem as challenging as the cancer itself, and to watch the toll it takes on those I love.
The second is that I can state, without a doubt, that I am completely and utterly committed to the work of Sarcoma Alliance. I am passionate, dedicated, and will put everything I have into furthering our mission. 
This is not, not will it ever be “just a job.”
Can you tell us more about your professional background?
From high school on I hoped to eventually have a career in nonprofit management. In furtherance of that goal I obtained a B.S. in Finance, followed by a J.D. Throughout this time I was also very involved with various nonprofits, gaining valuable experience along the way. 
After graduating from law school, I worked as an attorney and then in regulatory compliance, all while staying committed to developing my nonprofit skill set. I volunteered for Sarcoma Alliance for several years, specifically as a Board Member for the past three years and as a member of the  Executive Committee for a majority of that time.
How will Sarcoma Alliance stay the same under your direction? What changes are you looking forward to? What are the priorities for the Alliance?
Our retiring ED, Arthur Beckert, has accomplished much in support of our mission to provide guidance, education, and support for everyone affected by sarcoma. I hope to continue, and grow upon, this work as well as his commitment to honoring the legacy of our founder, Suzanne Leider. This work will include efforts toward current programs like our Assistance Fund providing grants for second opinion consultations, our Peer-to-Peer Network, and our Facebook Support Group. It will also include new endeavors, such as expanding our working relationship with social workers and increasing sarcoma awareness among general practitioners.
The biggest challenge at Sarcoma Alliance has been obtaining the funding necessary to grow programs. I will work with our Board to generate new sources of funding – and to assist those who wish to fundraise on our behalf – to ensure continued support of the sarcoma community.
Finally, what do you want us to know about you?
How incredibly honored, humbled, and excited I am to have this opportunity. 
But for a little about myself – I am married to an amazing man, and together we love spending time with our six-month old son, two dogs, and two cats. They keep me laughing and on my toes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
To learn more about Sarcoma Alliance and our mission to support those affected by sarcoma, please visit our website.
ANNOUNCEMENT:  Arthur Beckert Retires

ANNOUNCEMENT: Arthur Beckert Retires

Arthur and Betsy Beckert

Last month, Sarcoma Alliance announced that our Executive Director, Arthur Beckert, is retiring.
At the same time, the Alliance announced the dedication of The Arthur Beckert Education Fund – a Sarcoma Alliance fund committed to the education of sarcoma patients, families, caregivers, and Sarcoma Alliance staff. Click here to make a donation today.
While we are going to miss Arthur, we will be forever grateful for his many contributions to Sarcoma Alliance and our mission.  We are also looking forward to a bright future with our new Executive Director – stay tuned for news on that very soon – Arthur and the new Director are already working together to assure a smooth transition.
Arthur was kind enough to exchange a few emails and sit down with me to discuss his time at the Alliance and his plans for retirement.
How much did you know about sarcoma before you started your work with Sarcoma Alliance?
Immediately after I was hired as the Executive Director, I reviewed all of the Sarcoma Alliance resources and remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of subtypes (more than fifty). Other than osteosarcoma and Kaposi sarcoma, I was not very familiar with sarcoma. I even remember trying to figure out how to pronounce some of them, such as leiomyosarcoma and rhabdomyosarcoma.
Through my previous work with the state medical association, San Francisco General Hospital, and various health insurance companies, I knew the issues that someone faces during an unexpected health crisis or devastating diagnosis. What I most needed to learn were the special challenges that people with sarcoma face. For example, getting good information about the diagnosis, where to get treatment, what treatments might be suggested and why.
You’ve been with us since 2004; at some point you must have decided that this was more than “just a job,” can you recall when that was?
There was no single moment when I realized that being a part of Sarcoma Alliance was more than the responsibilities outlined in the job description.
During my career, I have always looked for positions that challenge me professionally and put me in touch with great groups of people. When I started with Sarcoma Alliance, I was excited by the opportunity to lead and help shape such an important organization.
At the time, the Alliance was being managed by an extraordinary group of volunteers – family and friends of our founder, the late Suzanne Leider. This early Board of Directors made sure that the Alliance would continue to exist and be able to grow during the coming years by continuing its mission and raising sufficient funds to hire full-time staff. They were the ones who gave me a firm understanding of the needs of the sarcoma community.

Arthur Beckert and sarcoma survivor Jared Holmes

You have connected with some pretty incredible people during your time with SA – are there any that stand out in particular?  
It would be impossible to choose one person or even a small group of people. There have been so many meaningful discussions over the years.
I have to say that I have been very fortunate to work with such a great group of Directors at Sarcoma Alliance. They are committed and passionate about the mission, and very supportive of me. 
I am always impressed with other advocates and their incredible commitment to the sarcoma community, whether it is support of the individual or working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of sarcoma.
Finally, and most importantly, are the hundreds of conversations I have had with individuals affected by sarcoma. Often, they desperately want to talk with someone who can give them accurate, honest advice and recommendations. Their gratitude, even when I am not able to give answers that I wish I could, is palpable.
The most difficult of these calls are from those who have an expectation that we will be able to give them “The Answer,” that single perfect piece of advice for their situation. 
What is your proudest accomplishment in your work with SA? What would you have liked to accomplish?
The greatest gift I have given the Sarcoma Alliance is its success and stability over the last nine years. It was an exciting transition from an organization that was run by an all-volunteer Board of Directors to one with full-time paid staff.
The Alliance has been able to accomplish so much and like any dynamic organization my to-do list is always growing just about as fast as other items can be checked off. I will be happy to pass my list on to my successor and I am sure there will always be new projects.
The Beckert Family, Hawaii 2012
Front: Arthur, Betsy, Molly
Back: Spencer, Rachael
The image of retirement is changing so quickly. What does it mean to you? How will you spend your first day of retirement?
During the week, I get up at 5:05 AM. I’ll never be a late sleeper, but after I retire, my 5AM wake up calls will be something of a fond memory. 
I begin most days with a run – either on the roads of Mill Valley (California) or on the trails of the incredible parks we have nearby. I have been running since 1966, the routine won’t change after retirement, but I will be able to start a little later and run with some of my wonderful friends rather than facing dark, and the sometimes cold, wet mornings by myself.
Fortunately, I love working around the house and in our garden because there’s a lengthy list of projects waiting for me.
My wife will retire next summer and together we will hike on the many miles of trails throughout Marin County. We also have a “bucket list” of travel adventures that is much longer than we will ever be able to accomplish – we will have to prioritize.
There will also be lots of time with my three kids who are involved in incredibly divergent careers of medicine, nonprofit work, and animation.
One thing I won’t be – bored.
And, finally, what is the biggest piece of advice you have for the person stepping into your shoes?
The focus of the Sarcoma Alliance is guidance, education, and support for everyone affected by sarcoma. The next Executive Director needs to be a good listener – sensitive and compassionate with advice and support. 


Sarcoma Alliance supports those affected by sarcoma. All of the services we provide are offered at no charge. To make a donation today, please visit our website.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

 

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on December 1st and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back.

Join the #GivingTuesday movement today and together we can demonstrate how each act of generosity counts, and that it means even more when we give together.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Sarcoma Alliance Store – Now Open

ANNOUNCEMENT: Sarcoma Alliance Store – Now Open

Sarcoma Alliance T-Shirt
Great big happy shopping news from us today:   Our Zazzle Store is open!
What the heck is Zazzle?  Basically, Zazzle allows us to easily offer a huge variety of  Sarcoma Alliance gear to our wonderful supporters. Like the t-shirt above.
And the snazzy luggage tag below….

Sarcoma awareness luggage tag from Sarcoma Alliance

And..oh my goodness…adorable clothing for your best friend….

How Cute is This? Doggy Shirt from Sarcoma Alliance

How about a little something for your morning commute

Travel Mug – Sarcoma Alliance

You know what’s really cool about Zazzle?  You can customize some of the items.

Want a stylish black shirt?  No sweat!

Sarcoma Alliance Black T-Shirt

And another great thing about Zazzle?  Returns. If you don’t love it, they’ll take it back. No questions asked.  We’re pretty sure you’re going to love everything there, though.  The Women’s Shirt, for example, has more 500 reviews and received around 4.5 out of 5 stars.

As you use your swag from the Sarcoma Alliance Zazzle shop, you spread sarcoma awareness – and you’ll be doing a great thing for others because a full 20% of everything you buy will come to Sarcoma Alliance.

So..what are you waiting for?  Go buy that keychain!