When and how did you first get involved with SHARE?
I first got involved with SHARE in 1988. I was a breast cancer survivor (I had been diagnosed at age 42), and I had just moved to Manhattan from Westchester and wanted to get involved in the city. I had heard about SHARE, so one day I went to the office. I met Barbara Kronman (pictured above right), who was the executive director at the time, and the two of us connected. I became her co-director.
I had already done a lot of breast cancer work, including leading Outward Bound groups for women with breast cancer. I had also been on 60 Minutes and volunteered at Sloan-Kettering, so Barbara knew who I was.
In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?
Being co-director with Barbara was a full-time volunteer job. We were both there every single day. The original office was downtown, on 16th Street, I think. We shared it with the League of Women Voters. It was tiny, only one room, but it was an office. There were Barbara and I, a part-time secretary, and three or four volunteers who came in to lead groups. Lee Miller was very active, and so was Diane George.
And we had very little money. One day I told Barbara we should write a "going out of business" letter saying we were finished unless people immediately sent a donation. We actually did it! I don't know how much we raised, but $2000 was a lot of money for us then.
Later I started the SHARE Walk, which raised a lot of money that enabled us to develop several new groups, including a group for newly diagnosed women, a group for young people, and an ovarian cancer group. We also started a group for Spanish-speaking women.
The idea for the walk came from AIDS walks. I thought, "Why doesn't anybody do this for breast cancer?" The first year, Nike gave us t-shirts, but we weren't allowed to put "Breast Cancer" on them because Nike didn't want the word "breast" on the shirts. So all of these people were out there walking for breast cancer, but you couldn't see what they were walking for.
One year we got Linda Ellerbee involved, and Diane Sawyer introduced her. The walks were very exciting, and we raised a ton of money. We had some really good incentive prizes. Whoever raised the most money would win a walk-on part on a soap opera. Then we had a walk-on prize on Chicago Hope. People got really into it.
How has SHARE helped you?
SHARE gave us an immense feeling of how to build an organization. When there was a need out there, we responded to it, and it happened. Sort of like, "If you build it, they will come." I left in 1993 and Barbara and I were able to go on from SHARE and build a whole different organization. We founded the "Catalog for Giving," and that has been a huge success.
What is your 40th Anniversary wish for SHARE?
The educational programs are fantastic. I just hope SHARE continues to be able meet the needs of women, especially newly diagnosed women. I think that's the most important place where SHARE steps in.