Ruth Beach remembers how it felt when her doctor told her the dreaded news, “You have cancer.” She said it was overwhelming because she was suddenly flooded with medical information about her options in treating her cancer. But something was missing. She felt unprepared for the many physical and emotional challenges ahead of her. After her two-year battle with breast cancer, and overcoming it, she decided to help others with ways to cope with the news of having cancer, creating Handles of Hope.

Beach wanted to put together a free bag with vital resources, information, coping tools, and comfort aids to help patients through their cancer journey. Beach shared her idea with Jann Totzke, Executive Director of Oncology at Lakeland HealthCare’s Marie Yeager Cancer Center. Totzke liked the idea. “Handles of Hope supports our patients from a psycho-social perspective,” stated Totzke. Each year, Lakeland cares for nearly 800 new cancer patients.  

A Member Service Advisor at United Federal Credit Union (UFCU), Beach approached the UFCU Charity Committee about donating money to purchase the supplies to put the support bags together. The committee unanimously said yes to the cause and donated $4,000 to get the program started.

Beach created a list of the things that helped her when she was going through treatment, which became the contents of Handles of Hope. The bags include:
            
Journal Book, to help release bottled-up feelings and emotions in a productive way, plus a pen to write their story.
            Local and National Resource Information, a packet with lists of local and national organizations, some that offer 24-hour support through one-on-one peer telephone counselors, providing a good support system.
            Meditation CD, Piano Relaxation CD, and Herbal Tea with Mug, these can help with calming one down and allowing the patient to sleep, which can be very difficult at times.
            There is No Place Like Hope, a book which addresses the emotions and experiences of cancer with honesty and humor.
            Eating Well through Cancer, a cookbook providing the patient with tasty recipes, healthy cooking tips, and specific foods that can help with side effects. The book also allows family and friends to help pre-cook healthy meals in preparation for chemotherapy treatments.

The bags also include a feedback comment card to find out how helpful the items were for the patients, and a chance to suggest ideas on items they would like to see in the bags. “Patients may not need all of the items on their cancer journey, and sometimes their needs change as they progress through treatment, so we want their input on the bags,” said Totzke.

Lakeland HealthCare offers cancer patients the services of Oncology Navigators. The navigators are specialized registered nurses who link newly diagnosed cancer patients with the resources they need throughout treatment and beyond into survivorship. The Oncology Navigators assemble the resource packets in the Handles of Hope bags and distribute the bags through the diagnosing physicians and oncologists.

Many volunteers helped to assemble the bags. This included the Rainbows of Hope support group, the Chemosabies breast cancer support group, the Oncology Navigators, and cancer survivors who wanted to help others.

“On behalf of Lakeland, we are so grateful to Ruth, United Federal Credit Union, and the many cancer survivors and volunteers who are making this special project possible,” said Totzke.

For more information or ways to help the mission of Handles of Hope, please contact Karen Dye at the Lakeland Health Foundation at (269) 927-5143 or kdye@lakelandregional.org
Photo caption: Nurse Navigator Shelley Wilkinson, UFCU Member Service Advisor Ruth Beach, and Nurse Navigator Catherine Clarey-Sanford
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Ruth Beach remembers how it felt when her doctor told her the dreaded news, “You have cancer.” She said it was overwhelming because she was suddenly flooded with medical information about her options in treating her cancer. But something was missing. She felt unprepared for the many physical and emotional challenges ahead of her. After her two-year battle with breast cancer, and overcoming it, she decided to help others with ways to cope with the news of having cancer, creating Handles of Hope.

Beach wanted to put together a free bag with vital resources, information, coping tools, and comfort aids to help patients through their cancer journey. Beach shared her idea with Jann Totzke, Executive Director of Oncology at Lakeland HealthCare’s Marie Yeager Cancer Center. Totzke liked the idea. “Handles of Hope supports our patients from a psycho-social perspective,” stated Totzke. Each year, Lakeland cares for nearly 800 new cancer patients.  

A Member Service Advisor at United Federal Credit Union (UFCU), Beach approached the UFCU Charity Committee about donating money to purchase the supplies to put the support bags together. The committee unanimously said yes to the cause and donated $4,000 to get the program started.

Beach created a list of the things that helped her when she was going through treatment, which became the contents of Handles of Hope. The bags include:

           

Journal Book, to help release bottled-up feelings and emotions in a productive way, plus a pen to write their story.

            Local and National Resource Information, a packet with lists of local and national organizations, some that offer 24-hour support through one-on-one peer telephone counselors, providing a good support system.

            Meditation CD, Piano Relaxation CD, and Herbal Tea with Mug, these can help with calming one down and allowing the patient to sleep, which can be very difficult at times.

            There is No Place Like Hope, a book which addresses the emotions and experiences of cancer with honesty and humor.

            Eating Well through Cancer, a cookbook providing the patient with tasty recipes, healthy cooking tips, and specific foods that can help with side effects. The book also allows family and friends to help pre-cook healthy meals in preparation for chemotherapy treatments.

The bags also include a feedback comment card to find out how helpful the items were for the patients, and a chance to suggest ideas on items they would like to see in the bags. “Patients may not need all of the items on their cancer journey, and sometimes their needs change as they progress through treatment, so we want their input on the bags,” said Totzke.

Lakeland HealthCare offers cancer patients the services of Oncology Navigators. The navigators are specialized registered nurses who link newly diagnosed cancer patients with the resources they need throughout treatment and beyond into survivorship. The Oncology Navigators assemble the resource packets in the Handles of Hope bags and distribute the bags through the diagnosing physicians and oncologists.

Many volunteers helped to assemble the bags. This included the Rainbows of Hope support group, the Chemosabies breast cancer support group, the Oncology Navigators, and cancer survivors who wanted to help others.

“On behalf of Lakeland, we are so grateful to Ruth, United Federal Credit Union, and the many cancer survivors and volunteers who are making this special project possible,” said Totzke.

For more information or ways to help the mission of Handles of Hope, please contact Karen Dye at the Lakeland Health Foundation at (269) 927-5143 or kdye@lakelandregional.org

Photo caption: Nurse Navigator Shelley Wilkinson, UFCU Member Service Advisor Ruth Beach, and Nurse Navigator Catherine Clarey-Sanford

6Ruth Beach, United Federal Credit Union, submission, medium,

For great stories of CUs creating awesomeness in their communities, visit CUSocialGood.com!

Tell the world about your CU Hero.
If you have an amazing story about the legendary efforts of a CU employee to serve members, or to serve those who do, it’s easy to share it with the world - just click the Submit a Hero link on the left side of this page, upload your hero’s picture or video, tell us their story, and click Submit.
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Tell the world about your CU Hero.

If you have an amazing story about the legendary efforts of a CU employee to serve members, or to serve those who do, it’s easy to share it with the world - just click the Submit a Hero link on the left side of this page, upload your hero’s picture or video, tell us their story, and click Submit.

6medium,

My CU Heroes: Paul McJannet, Verity Credit Union and Lavinia Peters 

Submitted by: Shari Storm

In October of 2009, Verity Credit Union named our first Member of the Year to a woman we all knew and loved, Lavinia Peters. Below is the blog post we wrote about her.

It was on January 28th, 1953 that Lavinia Peters first walked through the doors of Verity Credit Union.

Of course, at that time, we weren’t called Verity. We were NW Federal Employees Federal Credit Union. We weren’t at our nice modern building on Meridian either. In fact, we were in a very small, slightly rundown building on 2500 Elliott. Lavinia remembers that Bob Salen was the president of the credit union (but back then, CU presidents were simply referred to as the “credit union manager”).

Through the years we have helped Lavinia with the things she is most proud of – assisting her son through medical school, purchasing her two condos and buying her 1978 hot pink Dodge Aspen.

That’s right. Lavinia (also known as the “Pink Lady”) drove a hot pink Dodge Aspen for many years. The staff at Verity would love to see her drive up, with her PKLADY license plate and her great smile, when she visited the branch every Saturday.

Lavinia knows most of us by our first names. She has kept track of many of us who have left. She stops by just to say “Hi!” She refers Verity to her friends and neighbors. She has been known to catch a dividend calculation mistake or two over the years. She gives us suggestions. She gives us praise.

And on October 25, we honored her with the first ever “Verity Member of the Year Award.” After she gave her acceptance speech, the room exploded in applause. She received a standing ovation from all of Verity’s 100 employees.

It is not often that a company can call a woman like Lavinia Peters a friend. We are proud and fortunate that we can.

Lavinia, we appreciate you.

As time went on, Lavinia’s health faltered.  Eventually, she could no longer drive.  She couldn’t visit the branch like she used to. So she would call and one of our staff, Paul McJannet, would talk to her about all of the promotions we had going on. When we started emailing our newsletter and stopped printing them, he would slip one in the mail to her every month. He even offered to pick her up and drive her to our annual meetings. That became a tradition. For several years, Paul would drive to Lavinia’s house to bring her to the credit union’s annual meeting. She sat in the front row, where she had since 1953. She knew most of us by name but Paul was definitely her favorite.

Sadly, Lavinia passed away a few months ago. I truly believe Verity Credit Union and especially Paul were bright spots in her life.

6Lavinia Peters, Verity Credit Union, submission, medium, Paul McJannet,

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
My CU Hero: Barb Prieshoff, FORUM Credit Union
Submitted by: Andy Janning
You noticed her smile first. Then the gentle way she made you the center of attention anytime she talked to you. She was the closest thing I’ve met to a saint. 
You couldn’t outwork her. 50 hour weeks spent resolving and processing hundreds of ATM/Debit disputes, issues, and complications yet still made time for Zumba three times a week. When a member went into full-on “Wet Cat Freak Out” mode on the phone, she was the one to stay sane, talk sense, and preserve the relationship. Card compromises that could’ve destroyed a member’s balance and belief in the CU were handled precisely and professionally. Her patience and care preserved and strengthened hundreds, if not thousands, of member relationships. 
You couldn’t forget her, because she didn’t forget you. She asked about my daughters nearly every time I ran into her, remembered what was going on in their lives and mine.
Right after Thanksgiving a few years ago, she stopped by my office with a huge gift bag meant for my girls for Christmas. I stood to open it but promptly sat back down, humbled and awed.
She had made a huge Advent calendar, complete with Star Wars characters and other symbols that represented all that was important to my daughters at that time in their lives. All of them painstakingly hand-crafted and sewn together to give two girls she never met a memory they would always cherish.  To this day, it’s the first Christmas decoration our family puts up and the last one we put away, simply to honor her. 
In 2006, when it came time for FORUM employees to select the co-worker who had gone above and beyond in the most powerful and memorable way that year, Barb was a virtually unanimous choice. 
She’s since retired from FORUM, leaving behind a legacy of selfless service never to be forgotten. 
And still smiling. 
ZoomInfo
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ISO
160
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My CU Hero: Barb Prieshoff, FORUM Credit Union

Submitted by: Andy Janning

You noticed her smile first. Then the gentle way she made you the center of attention anytime she talked to you. She was the closest thing I’ve met to a saint. 

You couldn’t outwork her. 50 hour weeks spent resolving and processing hundreds of ATM/Debit disputes, issues, and complications yet still made time for Zumba three times a week. When a member went into full-on “Wet Cat Freak Out” mode on the phone, she was the one to stay sane, talk sense, and preserve the relationship. Card compromises that could’ve destroyed a member’s balance and belief in the CU were handled precisely and professionally. Her patience and care preserved and strengthened hundreds, if not thousands, of member relationships. 

You couldn’t forget her, because she didn’t forget you. She asked about my daughters nearly every time I ran into her, remembered what was going on in their lives and mine.

Right after Thanksgiving a few years ago, she stopped by my office with a huge gift bag meant for my girls for Christmas. I stood to open it but promptly sat back down, humbled and awed.

She had made a huge Advent calendar, complete with Star Wars characters and other symbols that represented all that was important to my daughters at that time in their lives. All of them painstakingly hand-crafted and sewn together to give two girls she never met a memory they would always cherish.  To this day, it’s the first Christmas decoration our family puts up and the last one we put away, simply to honor her. 

In 2006, when it came time for FORUM employees to select the co-worker who had gone above and beyond in the most powerful and memorable way that year, Barb was a virtually unanimous choice. 

She’s since retired from FORUM, leaving behind a legacy of selfless service never to be forgotten. 

And still smiling. 

6Barb Prieshoff, small, submission, FORUM Credit Union,

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