summer intern

Colored Beads of Sharsheret

I arrived at Sharsheret for my first day of work, ready and willing to embrace my inevitable role as coffee-delivery girl, file organizer, data enterer, and performer of all such tasks typically delegated to the summer intern. However, as I dived into spreadsheets and media archives, a world began to unfurl before me. Now on the inside, I learned about navigating the inner-workings of a professionally run non-profit organization, while never losing sight of the target audience--the women we try our best to serve.  I witnessed daily the fierce power, fueled by Rochelle’s first brave initiative, of our network of women, staff, donors, and volunteers. Sharsheret’s beauty is in its “chain,” formed not by uniform links, but by thousands of diversely colored beads thoughtfully threaded together. Our dedicated staff cares passionately for women of all Jewish affiliations, stages of cancer diagnosis, and phases of life by offering cutting-edge support tailored to the individual needs of each woman, always deeply sensitive to the reality of living with a serious illness. Our mission is contagious, permeating the cubicles of Suite 2G on Teaneck Road to reach women and organizations nationwide.

Although my tasks consisted mainly of data entry, fundraising, filing, and research, I was privileged to interact with every member of the staff, each offering a particular skills-set and area of expertise.  At the annual retreat, I spent time with the team outside of work and enjoyed a front-row seat as they outlined their vision for the organization’s future. Powered by the commitment of a personally-founded non-profit and directed with the efficiency and strategy of Corporate America, Sharsheret holds a unique place amongst the many organizations in the Jewish and cancer communities. I am so thankful to the women and men of Sharsheret, both inside of the office and out, for the excellent learning opportunity and urgent call to action that will stay with me long after the leaves begin to fall.

Anything You Do That Is Small Is Not Small At All

“Anything you do that is small is not small at all,” was the message of a breast cancer survivor who spoke at the annual Sharsheret Cake Wars event at Yeshiva University. This was my introduction to Sharsheret.

After Cake Wars, I attended Sharsheret walks, speaking engagements, and other events throughout my college experience.  Since I learned how to help my father when he was facing cancer, I had a strong desire to help others in similar situations. Sharsheret’s mission, to help Jewish women and families affected by breast or ovarian cancer, seemed like a great cause to help advocate for and support.  Last fall, I began my Masters in Social Work degree at Columbia University, and I wanted to find something meaningful and stimulating to do for the summer.

When I was accepted as the Sema Heller – Netivot Shalom Summer Intern, I was excited to meet the staff that was responsible for this growing and successful organization.   Over the summer, I worked on various projects that helped analyze and enhance the programs at Sharsheret. The most interesting project was working on the health care symposia.  Reading through past transcripts and planning for upcoming symposia helped me gain a greater understanding of the current research and information available to women facing cancer and the many challenges they face when diagnosed.

I was also fortunate to meet Sam Heller.  Mr. Heller, along with friends and family, established this internship in memory of his late wife, Sema, who passed away from breast cancer. Learning about Sema’s strength and her desire to help others as she battled cancer was very inspiring and I am humbled to have had this internship in her memory.

I know that I will take the skills and information I have learned from Sharsheret and bring them with me in my career as a social worker.  It has been an enjoyable and memorable summer experience working at Sharsheret and I look forward to hearing about continuous growth and progress in its future.