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Cover Story: Louanne Roark – A Passion for Service

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: February 11, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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In 1999, LGFB’s tenth anniverary year, the DreamGirl role was formed as a way to deliver a testimonial from a program participant to help the industry truly understand the value of the program and why its support is so vital. “Our first DreamGirl was a wonderful woman named Carol Udycz who was a Cleveland nurse and breast cancer patient,” says Roark. “She was a perfect spokesperson, because she knew the program both from a health care provider perspective—[since] she had referred many of her patients to LGFB—as well as from a personal perspective as a cancer patient and participant. She was also one of the warmest, most caring and upbeat individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing.” The DreamGirls are an important part of the team making LGFB happen.

It Takes a Team
Roark’s in-house team consists of four full-time program staff, a full-time contractor in Atlanta who oversees warehouse operations, and about 20 senior citizens who are part-time employees supporting the warehouse operation and product assembly process, who Roark calls “incredibly dedicated.” She proudly states: “This team is so dedicated to LGFB, and they all share the same passion for the program and the value it brings to patients.” Among the Washington D.C. based staff, the LGFB program director, Lisa Burris, spent many years managing patient service and support programs for the American Cancer Society’s Mid-Atlantic division, says Roark. Two of her staff have been with the association and/or the Foundation for 20 years, with the majority of her time spent working on LGFB. A group of external supporters from many professional disciplines also share a passion for the value of LGFB, giving generously of their time and talents. This “brain trust,” as Roark calls them, includes the Foundation’s board of directors and industry supporters who provide financial support, in-kind donations, support, insight and guidance. “We have enjoyed their unwavering support since before the LGFB program was launched nearly 19 years ago,” says Roark. “When I talk about the philanthropic spirit of the cosmetic and personal care products industry, this is what I mean—a willingness to put time, money and their collective muscle consistently behind a cause they believe in.”

According to Bailey, LGFB is an important part of the Council’s work on behalf of its members and consumers who use its products. “Cosmetic companies have always been dedicated to improving the quality of life for their consumers. LGFB demonstrates the collective philanthropic values and corporate responsibility our members take very seriously.  It’s an extension of our mission—allowing us to use our resources and partnerships so every woman living with cancer can benefit from our members’ philanthropic commitment.”

The 50 or so companies that donate between 700,000 and one million pieces of product each year, with a value of about $10 million, are vital to LGFB success. Deaver says the cosmetic and personal care industry has always been very supportive and proud of the LGFB program, and she calls its donations of funding and product truly remarkable. “As the program has grown and the needs increased, the industry has stepped up to the challenge of providing increasing funding and product donations,” says Deaver. Roark, too, is appreciative. “I want the personal care products companies and professionals reading GCI magazine to know how much their support means to LGFB, both on a corporate and a personal level. We appreciate their contributions so very much,” says Roark. “I want to encourage them to get involved with the program if they are not already participating.”

Program support doesn’t end there. It also comes from collaborating organizations ACS and NCA, as well as from experts in the psycho-social needs of cancer patients, among them Julia Rowland, PhD, head of the office of cancer survivorship at the National Cancer Institute. The Foundation’s relationship with the ACS started during the late pilot phase of the LGFB program in 1988. “As the premier oncology health organization working with the public, and with more than 3,000 local, staffed offices, the ACS was an ideal partner to help deliver LGFB to cancer patients,” says Roark. “We had the added benefit of the first-ever female chairman of ACS—Kay Horsch—at the helm of the ACS board during this time in the late 80s, and she embraced the concept and opportunity to help female cancer patients in a new and significant way.” Today, the ACS administers the LGFB program at the local level. NCA’s contribution is its membership, comprised of about 20,000 salon-based beauty professionals, including hairstylists, estheticians, makeup artists and nail technicians, who serve as LGFB volunteers. “I find it quite remarkable that three organizations with such diverse missions have collaborated for 19 years on a common program,” she says. “It is a strong testament to our shared belief in the value of the program and our shared desire to help cancer patients overcome obstacles during their treatment.