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Fox Chase Cancer Center Celebrates National Volunteer Recognition Week

PHILADELPHIA (April 19, 1999) -- At Fox Chase Cancer Center, helping people is a way of doing business. There are doctors who see patients and investigate the best new ways to treat cancer. Nurses and technologists care for cancer patients. Fox Chase scientists conduct research to further our understanding of cancer. But there is another group that helps significantly. They are not paid to do their jobs, but they are dedicated just the same. Life experience and kind hearts serve as their qualifications. They help with a smile, they happily give of themselves, they make a difference. They are the volunteers of Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Every April, millions of volunteers across the country are honored for their incredible work. Volunteer Recognition Week, April 18-24, marks a time to appreciate all the wonderful contributions of those who volunteer their time to help others. This week at Fox Chase, all volunteers will be treated to coffee and tea every morning and will be given beautiful carnations. Individual departments will have their own festivities. In addition, the Center will host a special luncheon on April 21 at 12:30 p.m. at the Rose Brier Inn to formally recognize its volunteers.

Fox Chase has an established system to honor its volunteers from year to year. Volunteers receive certificates and pins based on their hours of service. The pins are also adorned with diamonds and other jewels as volunteers accumulate service hours. Every January, the pins are collected and a jeweler prepares them for the luncheon.

"In 1998 alone, our volunteers gave a total of about 47,000 hours of service to the institution," said Kathie Reed-McKain, Director of Volunteer Services. "Besides working in their individual departments, many also participate in such efforts as the tobacco settlement letter-writing campaign, The March and various events and fundraisers at the Center. They truly are an integral part of Fox Chase."

The volunteers at Fox Chase range in age from 14 to 95 years old. Sam Semmel of Philadelphia, the Center's oldest volunteer, has given about 15,000 hours of service since he started volunteering at the volunteer information desk in 1975. Fox Chase's student volunteer program includes many young people from area high schools and colleges. Many students, like Nidhi Tikku from Northeast High School, want to gain exposure to health careers while doing important community service.

The volunteer population at Fox Chase maintains an equal balance of men and women. There are a large number of husbands and wives who give their time. About 12 couples actively volunteer at Fox Chase. Some of these couples are representative of the large international community of volunteers at the Center.

Cancer survivors make up about 30 percent of the volunteers. Many have personally beaten the disease; others have lost spouses, siblings, or parents to cancer. Marilyn Uchitel of Meadowbrook, Pa., a cancer survivor and volunteer at the Fox Chase hospice program, helps families through the bereavement process. She has been a volunteer at Fox Chase since 1987.

Many volunteers are long-term members of the Fox Chase community, giving their time to the Center for more than ten years. John MacMillan of Northeast Philadelphia, a vibrant older gentleman, has been volunteering at the Cancer Information Service (CIS) at Fox Chase since 1982. With close to 3,000 hours of service, he is an important part of the CIS.

Fox Chase volunteers touch the lives of those they help. Carmen Ezzo of Feasterville, Pa. has worked in the Center's Outpatient Department as a patient greeter since 1991. He has long-term relationships with many patients and families who come in regularly for treatment. Freddie Cooper of Wyndmoor, Pa., the wife of Fox Chase chief of surgical pathology Harry Cooper, M.D., and Myra Durlofsky of Northeast Philadelphia distribute challah bread every Friday to all the Jewish patients in the Center.

Applications are now being accepted for the summer student volunteer program. Anyone interested in this program or other volunteer opportunities at Fox Chase Cancer Center should call Kathie Reed-McKain, Director of Volunteer Services at 215-728-2560.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research including prevention, detection and treatment of cancer, and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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