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Volunteer turns the blues into pink passion

When Margie Elkins of Niantic, CT, remembered the birthday of a dear friend she had watched pass away from pancreatic cancer, she felt a need to do something to give back to others facing the disease. She reached out to a friend who put her in contact with our Volunteer Care Team.

"I'm typically not a joiner, but I had attended a survivor luncheon right after my diagnosis and surgery," explained Margie, a two-year survivor of breast cancer. "During my recovery, I had an overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness. I didn't want others to feel the same."

Once Margie was connected to the Volunteer Learning Center, she was off and running taking the necessary training sessions to be an active volunteer. "I trained as a Reach To Recovery visitor and as a Road To Recovery driver," she said. "I haven't driven yet for the Road program, but I have spoken about the need for new drivers to groups I meet with, and successfully recruited two new drivers in our area."  

In addition to program-specific training, Margie has taken advantage of training on the Volunteer Learning Center to enhance her leadership skills, volunteer-staff partnership, and public speaking abilities. "I hope to be an example that something positive can come from something negative," she says. "I want to be a voice for those that can't find theirs."   

"I encourage all potential volunteers to visit the Volunteer Learning Center and take a look at the training sessions that spark their interest," said Margie. "The session on Creating a Mission Statement was my favorite so far. The passion from the volunteer facilitators was moving."

Margie also got involved in her local Making Strides Against Cancer and met her staff partner Cate Reid, community development manager. She is currently working on a fundraiser that marries her interest in blues music with her passion for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The event is called ACS Blues meets Pink and will be held at Stonington Vineyards to raise money for her local Strides event.

The American Cancer Society's Volunteer Learning Center provides a wide variety of online training opportunities for volunteers. To view current curriculum, visit the Volunteer Learning Center at

  • Meet our extraordinary Quality of Life Award winners

    ​The winners of our Quality of Life Awards go above and beyond to help those that have heard the words "you have cancer," and the loved ones standing by their side. For these individuals it is more than a career; it is a lifestyle.  

    Because of their tremendous efforts to positively impact the lives of those on their cancer journey, the selection workgroups are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Lane Adams and Trish Greene Quality of Life Awards.

    Lane Adams Quality of Life Award winners:

    • Diogo Barbosa: A patient navigator for the GI Lab-Denver Health in Denver, CO
    • Catherine Gaines, PA-C: A certified physician assistant for Gibson Cancer Center Navigation Department at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, NC
    • Jackie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN: Manager of the NJ Cancer Education and Early Detection (CEED) Program at Virtua Health System in Medford, NJ
    • Roshani Patel, MD, FACS: An instructor in surgery at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and a breast surgeon at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Elliot Hospital in Manchester, NH
    • Amy Roberts, LCSW: An oncology social worker in Ocala, FL
    • Mandy Samford: A cosmetologist in Gilbert, AZ

    Trish Greene Quality of Life Award winner:

    • Barbara Ann Given, PhD, MSN, BSN: A distinguished professor and interim associate dean for research at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI

    The presentation of these awards will take place during the 2019 Nationwide Volunteer and Staff Leadership Summit in Dallas, TX.

    The Lane Adams Quality of Life Award is reserved for those unique caregivers who lead in their areas of expertise and make a significant impact on patients, families, and communities. Winners of the Lane Adams Quality of Life Award include individuals who provide direct care, counsel, and/or service to cancer patients, and their families.

    The Trish Greene Quality of Life Award is presented annually to an outstanding investigator in the field of quality of life research. This award recognizes the importance of the contributions of researchers who have devoted a significant portion of their careers to the various areas of quality of life and have accomplished outstanding research that benefits cancer patients and their families.

    As a reminder, to stay up-to-date on the latest ACS news, subscribe to the My Society Source Weekly Newsfeed.

    If you have any questions about the Lane Adams Quality of Life Award or the Trish Greene Quality of Life Award, please visit the Volunteer Recognition page on My Society Source or contact Caira Turner, senior volunteer recognition manager, at

  • Congratulations to the first winners of the Volunteer Staff Partnership Award!

    Partnerships between volunteers and staff members set the American Cancer Society apart from other organizations. These partnerships are built on relationships, where each partner has a different but equally important role. Both are critical to success at every level.

    The Selection Workgroup is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Volunteer Staff Partnership Award. These partnerships demonstrate volunteers and staff successfully impacting our mission by increasing community engagement, growing revenue, impacting mission outcomes, enhancing stewardship, and/or creating new opportunities.

    Let's meet our outstanding award winners and congratulate them on a job well done! (Volunteers' names are bolded.)

    West Region: Jolene Wegsteen and Linda ForceFor the past three years, Jolene and Linda have worked side-by-side to ensure that our Relay For Life program is successful in the West Region. Linda gave Jolene the tools and support she needed to take an active volunteer lead in their Region. Their relationship has provided the West Region with inspiration, effective trainings, innovation, and thoughtful planning of the Relay For Life program.

    North Region: Jeff Schofield and Laurie Bertrand –  Jeff and Laurie have built their relationship on trust over the last three years. Jeff is involved with ACS as a Real Men Wear Pink candidate, Making Strides participant, Wagon Warriors supporter, and member of his local Area Board.  One of the biggest events Laurie and Jeff have tackled together is the Wagon Warriors. With the support of Associated Bank and the local schools, wagons are decorated to raise money for pediatric cancer research.    

    South Region: Sharanda Williams and Octie Ashley –  With Sharanda's 13-year partnership with ACS, she has recruited and helped retain numerous ACS volunteers from the Relay For Life program to the Community Health Advisor program. Octie encourages her to participate and helps her to develop outreach opportunities in support of our mission. Sharanda is an innovative fundraiser, developing a yearly Zumba Dance party for the CHA program. It's not only well attended, but provides education, awareness, and navigation to life saving cancer screenings while raising thousands of dollars for ACS.

    North Central Region: Kris Kipp and The Ohio State University Account Team –  For the past five years, Kris has worked closely with The Ohio State University Account Team to create an inclusive, collaborative environment to share ideas. By planning and sponsoring an Area Plan Tactical Breakfast, Kris brought together the Area Board, council, and staff to discuss market goals and objectives. He is very active in ACS programs and events including the Columbus Cattle Barons' Ball, The Ohio State University and HPV Champions at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Relay For Life events. Kris' in-depth knowledge of ACS allows him to be a champion for our mission among his peers and in his community.

    Northeast Region: Judy Upholster and Lyndsie McPadden – In the four years that Judy and Lyndsie have been working together, they have developed a close rapport, shared new ideas, and challenged one another for the benefit of our mission. This volunteer/staff partner team is active in Relay For Life and Daffodil Days around the Pittsburgh area. As an employee at FedEx Ground, Judy has encouraged others to participate in ACS events as well as leading the way for the Northeast Region to win a $50,000 grant from FedEx.

    Southeast Region: Kevin Campbell and Megan Nelson – Kevin and Megan have worked tirelessly to create a partnership built on mutual trust and respect while collaborating the past four years. With Megan's help, Kevin, the community affairs manager at WSOC-TV, has taken ACS content and produced incredible videos to share with volunteers, sponsors, and the public at large in the Charlotte, NC, area. He has also created avenues to work ACS stories into WSOC's news programming, directed viewers to customized website that link to ACS recruitment channels, and encouraged other station employees to engage with ACS programs.

    Global Headquarters: Kris Scharingson and Christy Manternach –  Kris and Christy credit their successful partnership over the last two years to nurturing a trusting and respectful relationship. Christy encourages Kris to participate in activities that she is passionate about including the National HPV Volunteer Workgroup, the Survivor Engagement subgroup, and the Relay For Life program. Together, they navigate opportunities leading to success for the HPV Cancer Free mission at the local, state, and national levels.        


    The Volunteer Staff Partnership Award recognizes a volunteer and staff team that models a successful partnership to positively impact the American Cancer Society mission. The presentation of these awards will take place within each Region allowing the winners to celebrate with their local ACS family.

    As a reminder to your volunteers, they should subscribe to the My Society Source Weekly Newsfeed to stay up-to-date on the latest ACS news. 

    If you have any questions about the Volunteer Staff Partnership Award, please visit the Recognition page on Society Source or contact Caira Turner, senior volunteer recognition manager, at

  • Seeking volunteers for new Sports Alliances Workgroup!

    Get ready to rumble! 

    Do you or someone you know love sports? 

    The Sports Alliances team is creating a new volunteer Sports Alliances Workgroup to help expand our sports initiatives and partnerships.

    This volunteer workgroup will be comprised of 8-10 volunteers from around the country who will serve for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years. Along with a few staff partners, they will play a critical role in informing, developing, and implementing nationwide strategies for sports engagement. They will assist with promotion of specific campaigns, helping drive fundraising and relevancy.

    People interested in this new volunteer opportunity should fill out this application by 5 p.m. ET on Monday, August 13. 

    Specific goals include:

    • Leveraging Coaches vs. Cancer, NFL, and NHL platforms to generate engagement and further our mission both on a local and national level.
    • Increasing volunteer engagement in Sports Alliances platforms.
    • Increasing the number of interactions and level of engagement via social media platforms to drive awareness about the NFL and NHL partnerships through both ACS social accounts and those of our partner organizations.
    • Building Coaches vs. Cancer partnerships through youth organizations, clubs and schools.

    If you have questions, please contact David Doan

  • Massachusetts becomes the 6th state to raise tobacco age to 21

    On July 27, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law a bill that on Dec. 31 will raise the legal age to buy tobacco products statewide from 18 to 21. The bill also broadens existing prohibitions on public smoking to include e-cigarettes, and prohibits the use of tobacco products on the grounds of any public or private primary, secondary, or vocational school. Additionally, the new law will prohibit the sale of tobacco products by any pharmacy, hospital, or other entity that offers health care services or that employs any licensed health care providers.

    “Raising the age to buy tobacco products in the Commonwealth is an important step to prevent addiction for young people and encourage healthy choices,” said Baker. 

    While the bill prohibits the sale of tobacco to people under 21, it would not make it illegal for minors to use tobacco, nor would it be a crime for a parent or other adult to give a cigarette or tobacco product to a minor. Also, the new age would be phased in over three years, so that anyone already old enough to buy tobacco could continue to do so.

    Marc Hymovitz, Massachusetts director of government relations for ACS CAN, said lawmakers "have taken a huge step towards combating the tobacco industry's influence on Massachusetts' youth and protecting future generations of our children from becoming addicted to this deadly product."

    Tobacco 21 law still awaiting governor's signature in Illinois

    In June, the Illinois legislature sent a Tobacco 21 bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner, but he has yet to sign it. Chicago and about two dozen other Illinois cities have already made this move to protect the health of children.

    Tobacco 21 laws have been enacted by California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Washington D.C. and at least 340 cities and counties, including New York City, Chicago, San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and both Kansas Cities. In Massachusetts, more than 170 municipalities had raised the tobacco age above 18.

  • Pat Flynn's memorial service set for August 10 in Tacoma

    The memorial service for Pat Flynn, "The Mother of Relay For Life," will be held at 2 p.m. PT on Friday, August 10, at Mason Methodist Church, 2710 North Madison St., in Tacoma, WA.

    Our CEO Gary Reedy is expected to participate in the service, along with Jeff Ross, who will be representing Relay For Life volunteers. Jeff is a member of the National Relay For Life Advisory and Training Team, and chair of the Western North Carolina Area Board.

    Pat died July 7, at age 80. The Tacoma, WA, resident had stage four chronic kidney disease, according to her son, Mark Flynn, and had been on kidney dialysis for four years. During an interview several days before her death, Mark said, "She has limited time, but she is still one of the most joyous and happy people you'll ever meet, even when she is in pain." 

    Word of Pat's failing condition had spread across the country and around the world, and she had received a steady stream of phone calls from well-wishers from across the U.S. and as far away as South Africa and Australia.

    Below is a statement Gary Reedy issued the night of her passing:

    "Today, the American Cancer Society and the cancer world lost a true hero, Pat Flynn, a volunteer who worked tirelessly to change the face of cancer forever. Her life’s legacy includes three children, 15 grandchildren, and a cancer-fighting footprint of over 2,500 fundraising events in 30 countries, with 1.3 million participants. 

    "Pat is known to us all as the “Mother of Relay For Life.” She helped turn an idea into a movement that reached countless communities, raising over $6 billion to fight cancer and save lives since the inception of this grassroots concept in 1985. For more than three decades she was a leader and driving force behind the Relay For Life movement, which grew into the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event to lead the fight against cancer. Her enormous efforts helped change lives forever, and empowered communities around the world to have hope. 

    "Our thoughts, hearts, and prayers are with her family and friends. We hope there will be peace in knowing that her legacy has made a tremendous impact on so many throughout the world. We will miss Pat dearly, but she will never be forgotten, and she can be best remembered in her own words:

    "'As a mother, you want to see your children grow and have an impact on the world around them.  As the ‘Mother of Relay,’ I am thrilled to see the energy and spirit of Relayers continue to grow around the world. They have taken the light of Relay For Life from us here in the United States, and are truly united with us in creating a world without cancer."'

  • New volunteer engagement resources now available on My Society Source

    We are continuously enhancing My Society Source to meet the needs (and wants) of our volunteer leaders. You play an integral role in our mission to lead the fight against cancer.

    To support your work, we are providing you, our volunteers leaders, with the most up-to-date ACS news, videos, and other materials. We invite you catch-up on what's been happening at your American Cancer Society and subscribe to the weekly newsfeed.

    Here's a summary of recent updates to My Society Source:

    • Volunteer Engagement tab: We now have a tab specifically for Volunteer Engagement resources with a drop down to the new Volunteer Recognition page and The New ACS page. By making this change, we will have the flexibility to build out the Volunteer Engagement presence on My Society Source and provide even more resources to you.
    • Volunteer Recognition page: The new Volunteer Recognition page gives an overview of each of our National Awards and recognizes winners, workgroups, and teams. This page recognizes the great work that volunteers are doing in support of our mission.
    • Volunteer Engagement news tag: All news stories related to volunteer engagement can easily be found by clicking on the Volunteer Engagement tag under News and Views.
    • Volunteer Events and Opportunities: This section on the home page of My Society Source gives leadership volunteers a quick look at the events and opportunities that are happening around the organization.

    The My Society Source Quick Reference Guide and My Society Source FAQs were created to help you navigate through this site. Visit My Society Source today to learn more!

    For any questions, please contact Amanda McQuery, communications manager, staff and volunteers, at

  • Meet our 2018 St. George National Award winners!

    The American Cancer Society is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 St. George National Award. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding volunteers who have demonstrated ongoing leadership in community mission delivery and/or governance and have significantly contributed to furthering the Society's strategic goals and mission-driven programs. These award winners have consistently represented the Society in a manner that advances our mission and expands our community presence, and have exhibited a continuing commitment to the Society through a willingness to serve.

    Since conceived in 1949 by Charles S. Cameron, MD, former Society medical and scientific director, the St. George National Award has been presented annually to ACS volunteers across the country.   

    This year, the St. George National Award was presented to 13 exceptional volunteers nationwide. These individuals were nominated by their Regions and approved by the St. George National Award Task Force. Learn more about each of these award winners through these short bios.

    The 2018 St. George National Award winners are:  

    North Region

    William F. "Bo" and Kelly Ryan – Madison, WI

    Keith Whittemore – St. Louis, MO

    Northeast Region

    Miguel and Abby Melendez – North Baldwin, NY

    North Central Region

    Rick Benning – Springfield, OH

    Cheri Ott – Plymouth, MI

    South Region

    Mark Koch, MD, FAAAP – Fort Worth, TX

    John Ruckdeschel, MD – Jackson, MS

    Southeast Region

    Donna Lundy, PhD – Miami, FL

    Jeff Ross – Charlotte, NC

    West Region

    Steven Ai – Honolulu, HI

    John Hinshaw – Woodside, CA

    For any questions, please contact Caira Turner, senior volunteer recognition manager, at

    TOP PHOTO: Recipients are shown from left to right, as listed.

  • Two outstanding volunteers recognized with the 2019 Volunteer Leadership Award

    The Volunteer Leadership Award Selection Workgroup has carefully chosen the winners of the 2019 Volunteer Leadership Award. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding volunteers who have served as officers or chairs of major committees and/or have provided long and distinguished service to the Society at the enterprise-wide level.

    The workgroup awarded the 2019 Volunteer Leadership Award to two exceptional individuals. The presentation of this award will take place during the 2019 Nationwide Volunteer and Staff Leadership Summit in Dallas.

    Please join the Society in congratulating our outstanding 2019 Volunteer Leadership Award recipients,Diana S. Diaz, RN, MS, of Gallatin, TN, and Heddie M. Sumpter of Tampa, FL.

    Let's learn more about one of our Volunteer Leadership Award winners, Diana S. Diaz.

    In her more than 30 years of service to ACS, Diana has been a volunteer at all levels of our organization. In 1998, she was also recognized with the St. George National Award. She served on the American Cancer Society Board of Directors, the former Mid-South Division Board, the Advisory Group on Volunteer Engagement, and continues to serve on the National Volunteer Training Team, and Volunteer Product Council for Volunteer Engagement.

    Her contributions to help shape and support the launch, transition, and implementation of the new Volunteer Leadership Model have been recognized at all levels of the organization. During her term as the Mid-South Division Board chair, Diana's strength of leadership was demonstrated as she worked with volunteer leaders in the newly formed North Central Region to stand up the new volunteer leadership model.

    Diana is a true role model and positive force for change among both volunteers and staff amid much transition and uncertainty.

    Now, let's learn more about the impact that Volunteer Leadership Award winner Heddie M. Sumpter has made on our mission.

    Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. (DST) member Heddie M. Sumpter began her journey with the American Cancer Society at a local level in 1990 as the committee chair of the former Florida Division's Black Public Education Committee. In the span of her 28-year career as a distinguished and dedicated volunteer with the Society, Heddie gracefully and skillfully grew her and her sorority's involvement with our organization from five states to 50 states.

    She has held numerous leadership roles with the organization including member of the former Greater Tampa Operating Unit Board, ACS CAN Ambassador Constituent Team Lead for Congressional District 14, and the former Florida Division Board. She also currently serves on the Tampa Area Board and the enterprise Diversity Council.

    Heddie has leveraged her passion and commitment to the fight against cancer in strategic ways resulting in significant outcomes including a national agreement with DST signed by Chris Hansen, ACS CAN president. She has single-handedly grown a local community relationship into one of our most important external partnerships within Diversity and Inclusion. Our ability to engage more than 250,000 professional African American women in cancer prevention, advocacy, and fundraising is unprecedented.

    We know you will join us in congratulating these two dedicated volunteers!

    If you have any questions about the Volunteer Leadership Award, please contact Caira Turner, senior volunteer recognition manager, at or 919-334-5235. 

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