Today, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) — Greater San Fernando Valley Chapter — commemorates National Philanthropy Day®. On this day, the AFP recognizes and pays tribute to the contributions that philanthropy — and philanthropists — have made to the community in the San Fernando Valley and our nation. Amongst the recipients of this recognition are International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) support group co-facilitators, volunteers, and fundraisers Malcolm Katz and Sally Weber.
For Malcolm and Sally, building and sustaining community has been a cornerstone of their work, as professionals and now as volunteers. When Malcolm was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, they both sought a supportive community.
Malcolm and Sally contacted the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) and discovered that the closest support groups to their area were in Thousand Oaks, in Ventura County, and near the airport. Upon learning this, as Sally described, Malcolm became like a “man on fire” to begin a support group for those affected by multiple myeloma in their area — the San Fernando Valley in Southern California.
With the encouragement of the IMF, Malcolm visited doctors, arranged a meeting space at a local temple, and put forth an enormous recruitment effort. The first meeting proved successful, with 15 people in attendance. They continue to co-facilitate monthly meetings, providing support, education, and resources to multiple myeloma patients and caregivers. The support group is a second family and extended community for more than 200 participants.
Volunteering and fundraising
Not only are Malcolm and Sally volunteers, Malcolm is also a fundraiser. He joked that they started raising funds for the IMF for “selfish” reasons. About five years ago, the IMF issued a challenge amongst IMF-affiliated support groups. The support group that raised the most funds for the annual IMF Comedy Celebration would win a visit from IMF President & Co-Founder Susie Durie and IMF Chair Dr. Brian G.M. Durie.
The San Fernando Valley Support Group and their families and friends raised $5K their first year of fundraising, and the group won that visit from Susie Durie and Dr. Brian G.M. Durie. To date, the group has delivered more than $80K in donation dollars to the IMF. Proud of the SFV support group’s efforts, Malcolm challenges other IMF-affiliated support groups to raise significant money for the organization’s annual Comedy Celebration, which supports multiple myeloma research.
The IMF is not the only organization that benefits from Malcolm and Sally’s efforts. Malcolm is also a volunteer grief group facilitator for Our House Grief Support Center. Sally also volunteers with New Ground, a Jewish-Muslim dialogue program, as well as serving as a crisis response volunteer for Jewish Family Service.
What inspires these two?
Sally is driven by her personal passions and the joy of engaging in meaningful work. She recommends that people who are considering volunteering find “what they really want to do” and learn “what it takes to make that happen.” Then “partner with others to see it through.”
Malcolm says volunteering “takes a lot time but it is rewarding, especially for retired people... Retirement is essentially another career (that) you must define for yourself.”
We look forward to Malcolm and Sally pushing full steam ahead. In fact, Sally was just named Chairperson of the IMF Caregiver Workgroup. The Workgroup plans to create brochures for newly diagnosed myeloma patients, and for children of cancer patients.
Of course, both Malcolm and Sally will continue to co-facilitate the SFV Support Group, which strives to serve the whole person. As Malcolm explains, “It’s important to understand that we are not our disease. At times, the disease can overwhelm us when it flares up. But we are ‘whole’ people. We address the whole person at the San Fernando Valley Support Group, including diet, exercise, and spirituality. We provide a sense of community.”
If you are in the San Fernando Valley area, we encourage you to reach out to Malcolm and Sally at http://sanfernandovalley.support.myeloma.org.
You can also learn more about other IMF-affiliated support groups here.