CONCERN cares — conquering cancer one child at a time

Daily adventures, Inspiration

Volunteering brings me great joy.  It was always part of my master plan in LA.  Not only is it a good way to meet people, but more importantly, giving back/helping people will enrich and expand your life.

I’m not new to volunteering — I’ve done it throughout my life.  An experience that I regularly think of is my time as a Big Sister with the Big Brother/Big Sister organization in Boston.   The need was far greater to have mentors for boys, so I was a big sister to a 7-year-old boy named Frankie from South Boston.  He lived with his sister and parents in a small one bedroom apartment in the projects of Southie. I spent the day with him once a week. Despite my efforts to help him learn and expand his horizon with cultural/history-related trips/activities, all he ever wanted to do is to go to the arcade in Dorchester and play video games. Dah, Kristin???  This is what most little boys want to do.  I didn’t know…  Anyway, the sad thing is I lost touch with Frankie when I moved to DC.  Hmmm, I wonder what happened to him?

So, fast forward to the present in LA.  I started researching non-profits shortly after I got here. Shame on me for just now acting on it.  Albeit a little late in the game, I finally found a great organization to support – the Concern Foundation.  Founded in the late 60’s, it’s dedicated to raising and granting funds to support cancer research worldwide.  Concern Foundation is a rarity in the non-profit world as it maintains an administration overhead of 5 per cent or less, which means about 95 cents of very dollar goes directly toward research. This is made possible by remaining primarily volunteer driven.  Concern has provided grants to more than 650 gifted cancer researchers at major institutions locally, nationally and around the world; more than $45M has been raised and granted.

An important part of the org’s efforts are with kids.  On December 11, I volunteered at the annual Holiday Party, which took place on the grounds of Paramount Studios.   Concern invited children from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, City of Hope National Medical Center, UCLA Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Sunset, and Camp Ronald McDonald.  More than 150 kids showed up.  This event is not just for the children – it’s for their families too.  There were approximately 600 guests that day.

When I arrived at Paramount, the organizers and volunteers were mingling.   I didn’t know anyone so my first line of business was to introduce myself to the event coordinator.  She informed me to sit tight until the guests arrived.   I made use of time by meeting as many volunteers as possible.  I learned quickly that this is a multi-generational organization – generations of families were working side by side.  I’m told that Concern is being now run by the second and third generations but that the majority of the original 15 founding couples are still actively involved.   This is very much a family affair.  As an outsider coming into this close-knit community, everyone was very welcoming and friendly to me.

When the children and families arrived, we escorted them into the theatre.  As they watched a movie, the volunteers set up – unloading trucks, setting up the tents and different stations.  As guests exited the theatre, everyone received a bag of candy.   For the next four hours, guests moved around to different tents –cookie decorating, arts-n-crafts, beauty/make-over (for moms), Santa Claus and gifts (each family received a large garbage bag of toys), food, and dancing.   My job was to interact with the kids and do what it takes to get them to have fun. I bounced around to different areas, but I spent most of my time in one particular area. For those who know me, I am sure you can guess where.  The dance floor!   The DJ, Dwayne Brown of D’City Sound & Event Production, was amazing.  He’s fabulous with children and has a knack of getting everyone involved, even those who wanted to remain on the sidelines.  Eventually, they got up there.   By the end of the day, the dance floor was packed with kids.


As for me, I had a blast with the kids.  There were some kids that gravitated to me…my moves on the dance floor must have impressed them.  LOL. Then, there were a few whom I scared and sent running to their parents.  They did NOT want to dance.  Everyone was having fun.  I didn’t see anyone who was not smiling.  A job well done, Concern Foundation!


This was such a special day for me – one that I will never forget.  I got so much enjoyment watching these kids just be kids.  It was equally moving when parents would come up and thank you and Concern for giving their child this.  I had a woman who said to me, “thank you, she hasn’t smiled in a long time.”  Ahhh………I teared up many times during the day.






Concern is a fabulous org to be part of, and I plan to get more involved with it.  If you’re interested in learning how you can help, please contact Megan at Concern.  She can be reached at (310) 360-6100 or

Giving is a much more powerful feeling than receiving.  For me, it reminds me of what I’ve got and what I’m grateful for.  It’s a good way to bring you back down to reality.  We forget how lucky we are, and although we face a hurdle here and there, or go through a hardship(s) in life, there are people who are much worse off/have less than us.  So, be grateful for what you have.  And, if you don’t know what that is, take some time and think about it.  You’ll get a new perspective.

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