Sunday, January 23, 2022

Volunteer Leaders Make a Difference



Lisa Honig

Cancer never sleeps, and at the Marco Island American Cancer Society, we never forget that we are here to finish the fight. We had an amazingly successful 2014 and are actively gearing up for a new season.

I have written on several occasions about how we would not exist nor would we even have local events if it weren’t for our volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure to help men, women and children survive cancer and live longer, healthier lives. I am so grateful to our volunteer leaders, and I’d like to introduce you to and recognize our 2015 committee chairs and new Volunteer Leadership Council members, who work tirelessly virtually year round to support the mission of the American Cancer Society.

We added two new members to our Volunteer Leadership Council in July. They are Jessica Hernstadt and Dr. Leela Lavasani. Hernstadt is an attorney who recently moved to Marco Island with her husband and new Marco Island City Manager Roger Hernstadt. She was active with the Relay For Life of Marathon and has already committed to serving in a leadership role for our Relay For Life. Dr. Lavasani specializes in Otolaryngology (ENT) and is also new to our area, relocating from Orlando last year after accepting a position at Physicians Regional. Dr. Lavasani will be working with the other physicians on our Leadership Council to raise awareness in the medical community about the American Cancer Society and the services and support we can provide to their patients. I am very excited to have these two talented individuals join our Leadership Council and thank them for their service.

We have named a new Relay For Life Chair for 2015, Jamie Bergen. Bergen has served in Relay leadership roles and as a Relay Team Captain for the past two years and brings a wealth of leadership experience to our event. She is a Financial Advisor and is active with several local organizations, including the Charter Middle School and Noontime Rotary. As the Chair of Relay For Life, she will lead a committee of more than 20 volunteers and more than 30 teams who will work together to fundraise in the community and create an event experience that everyone in our community can attend and enjoy. Relay For Life 2015 will be held at Mackle Park on April 18-19.

Returning for their third year as co-chairs of the Imagination Ball are Dick and Debra Shanahan, who bring a passion and energy for fighting cancer that excites their committee members, and last year, led them to achieve the highest results ever for a gala on Marco Island. The Shanahans are very active in the community serving on other philanthropic and city government boards and committees. Their experience leading committees and chairing other events is invaluable as we continue to grow our gala and build a strong supporter base in Marco Island. The Imagination Ball will be held at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa on Feb. 28.

These are just a few of the many dedicated volunteers that Sue and I have the pleasure to work with each and every day. The American Cancer Society is the largest community-based volunteer health organization that is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem, and we need your help. As we grow, we need more volunteers for all of our events in whatever capacity fits your interests, expertise and/or schedule. All you need to do is to give us a call or stop by the office, and we’ll find you just the right opportunity! I guarantee you that your efforts will be appreciated and recognized by all of us and most importantly by our survivors and caregivers who need us more than ever. I look forward to welcoming you to our team!


This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about The American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood, Unit 101 and is open daily from 9AM-5PM. For more information about volunteer opportunities, events and services please contact Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800.

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