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Recently, Cancer Support Community Arizona Board of Directors Mary Ann Luciano, Vice President of Ambassador Education with Plexus Worldwide sat down with Plexus Connect to talk about her experience serving and supporting our critical and powerful organization and Participants. Read the  Plexus Connect Article below.

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT ARTICLE: Cancer Support Community Arizona

Volunteering is an important part of the team member experience at Plexus. To help you get to know the charities on our volunteer list, we will regularly do a Charity Spotlight column on Plexus Connect. Our first spotlight is with Cancer Support Community Arizona, a charity that provides social, emotional and physical support services to people, of any age, diagnosed with cancer.

Mary Ann Luciano, Vice President, Ambassador Personal Development & Philanthropy and Cancer Support Community Arizona Board Member, sat down for a Q&A interview with Rebecca Brown, Director, Internal Communications to share more information about this great charity.

TELL ME ABOUT CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY ARIZONA:

Luciano: Cancer Support Community was founded in 1982 by Harold and Harriet Benjamin who transformed the way our culture faces cancer. Harriet, a cancer survivor herself, sought to create an organization that would provide social and emotional support to not only cancer patients, but also to families, friends, and caregivers. The Benjamins strongly encouraged psychosocial care because they believed in a strong correlation between emotional and physical well-being. Thus, the first walk-in community facility of its kind, The Wellness Community (TWC), was founded in Santa Monica, CA as an outlet for those suffering cancer to receive appropriate support.

One of the biggest advocates of TWC was late comedian and “SNL” cast member Gilda Radner. When diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986, Radner sought support from TWC. She called for similar support-focused organizations to be available not only on the West coast, but everywhere. Unfortunately in 1989, Gilda passed away. In honor of Gilda’s legacy, her husband Gene Wilder, and Joanna Bull, along with friends and family, founded Gilda’s Club in 1991. In 2011, The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Club united forces and became Cancer Support Community and includes 47 affiliates throughout the continental United States, Canada, Europe and Israel.

WHAT DOES CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY ARIZONA DO?

Luciano:  Cancer Support Community Arizona helps support people of all ages diagnosed and recovering from cancer and their families a place to go for support. People often feel very lonely and isolated when they are recovering. Cancer Support Community Arizona provides specific support groups, healthy lifestyle activities, educational seminars and social connections. Services are free of cost and provided by licensed therapists.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Episode 16 — Pictured: Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna during “Weekend Update” sketch on April 7, 1979 — (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY ARIZONA? 

Luciano:  When I lived in New York I used to participate in a Gilda’s Club 5K race in the Hamptons every summer. After moving to Arizona, a friend invited me to an event that showcased a video featuring Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinal Wide Receiver) giving very tender mentoring to a teenage girl with a brain tumor. I was so touched and fell in love with Cancer Support Community Arizona.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ON THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS? 

Luciano:  I’ve been involved for more than four years. I really became more active when I joined Plexus. Tarl and Alec were immediately supportive of this wonderful organization and getting team members at events and involved in projects. Giving back to the community is very important at Plexus.

 WHAT EXCITING EVENTS FOR CANCER SUPPORT COMMUNITY DO?

Luciano: In addition to the nearly 100 free programs they provide each month for anyone impacted by cancer, there have fun events and many heartfelt ways to get involved throughout the year. Their annual Trivia Night, which is coming up on March 16 is incredible! Last year we had three tables of Plexus team members, and their families and friends compete for prizes at the Trivia Night. It was a blast!

Cancer Support Community Arizona also partners with The Cinderella Affair for their Annual Prom Dress Drive. The charities unite and collect new or gently used semi-formal attire for an annual prom for teens impacted by cancer. The past two years Plexus team members have been among the most generous donors of dresses and jewelry.

Another favorite is the Day of Hope Spring Carnival, just held on Saturday, February 23, which honors families impacted by cancer. The free community event provides a day of fun with face painting, rides and food. Last year more than 40 Plexus team members participated last year as support volunteers or attended with their families.

Last, and not least is the signature event of the year, the annual Porch Party. This year it is on April 6, at the beautiful Cancer Support Community Arizona’s historic Mid-town Phoenix home where together we will celebrate 20 years of Cancer Support Community Arizona providing educational, nutritional, emotional, and stress reducing support to anyone impacted by cancer.

​HOW CAN PLEXUS TEAM MEMBERS GET INVOLVED?

Luciano:  One great thing is the Cancer Support Community Arizona is one of the approved charities for Paid Volunteer Time. There are lots of events coming up, donation opportunities, as well as ways to volunteer.

Cancer Support Community Arizona has also expanded to Scottsdale, which may provide additional opportunities for Plexus team members and just recently added projects and services.

To learn more about Cancer Support Community Arizona visit cscaz.org or call (602) 712-1006.