Building a Culture of Philanthropy

Long time residents of Fairmount Nick and Jen Wendowski wouldn’t really stand out on the streets of the neighborhood. Two young professionals with children are a dime a dozen in the ever-changing area.

When you peek beneath the surface, you find out that the Wendowskis are change agents in the city of Philadelphia.

Their business sense is probably the first thing you’d take note of.

When they walked into a dilapidated building in 2015, stepping on the moss-covered floor, most people would say “No, thanks.” Instead, Jen saw what could be. Five years later and ,Yoga Habit is a bustling, beautiful yoga studio that has become a staple of the community.

In 2019, ,Stone’s Beer & Beverage Market, a neighborhood business since 1955, was for sale. Nick and Jen jumped on the opportunity to make another mark in the neighborhood and purchased the business.

,Stone’s is a representation of the intersection of the neighborhoods in the area,” Nick says. “You see someone coming in for an expensive case of craft beer or a single can. It shows the current neighborhood situation.”

The Wendowskis have a history of looking for the potential in a situation. Which is why Gina Mancuso, Vice President of Legacy of Hope, knew they would be the perfect pioneers for the Legacy of Hope sponsorship program.

Jen and ,Yoga Habit previously worked with Legacy of Hope during PHL24 2019 by hosting a yoga class on the steps during the 24-hour event. Being fitness professionals in a small community, Gina and Jen knew there would be a time to work together again.

“We apply the same passion and drive to our small businesses.”

“We have only owned Stone’s for about a year,” says Nick. “From the beginning, I wanted to be able to be involved in the community, but the early days are challenging for a small business.” They identify with the passion and drive that Legacy of Hope has to help cancer patients in the area. “We apply the same passion and drive to our small businesses.”

When Gina approached them about the program, the Wendowskis thought it would be a perfect fit for Stone’s. “We knew we could find $100 per month in Stone’s budget for this,” says Nick.

As sponsors, Nick and Jen have committed to give Legacy of Hope a monthly donation that will go directly to groceries for families dealing with cancer. Their involvement doesn’t stop with a check, though.

“I wanted to build a culture of philanthropy into Stone’s,” says Nick. Every Stone’s employee is given two paid days per year that they can volunteer. “We know life is busy. This way our employees have the time to get out there without it cutting into their daily lives.”

Often, those hours are used for Legacy of Hope.

“We were able to meet the families that are directly impacted …”

“An employee and I were able to go out last month to deliver groceries,” says Nick. “We were able to meet the families that are directly impacted by Stone’s. Opportunities like this mean that every person at Stone’s can be directly involved.”

The importance of positively impacting the community is also something the Wendowskis want to impress upon their children. “If you are in the position to do so, it is your responsibility to give back,” says Jen. “We are fortunate to have the privilege, wealth, and ability to do good and we want our kids to know that.”

“Nick and Jen are the kind of people that make our neighborhood, and our city, a better place.”

Legacy of Hope sees the Wendowskis using their position to lift others up.

“Nick and Jen are the kind of people that make our neighborhood, and our city, a better place,” says Gina. “Both businesses give back to the community in ways that are meaningful and impactful. We’re so grateful to have them as a part of the ,Legacy of Hope team.”

Interested in joining Nick and Jen by becoming sponsors? Learn more about the program ,here.

Article written by: ,Annie Schuster

Photos by: ,Bryan Karl Lathrop Photography

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Michele Redrow

Michele is a Director on the Legacy of Hope board and also serves on the Executive Committee.

Gina Mancuso

Gina’s experience as the very successful co-owner of CoreFitness, LLC coupled with her expertise in planning special events makes her the perfect Vice President for Legacy of Hope. With energy, passion, and drive that makes her seem superhuman, Gina’s connection to our mission is a personal one.

“Both my father and my dear childhood friend were diagnosed with cancer within 3 months of one another. They were surrounded and supported by friends and family throughout their battle and until their passing. No one should suffer through a diagnosis alone and, without Legacy of Hope, some people would do just that.”

greg garber

Greg Garber is the director of Oncology Support Services at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

dr. kevin kelly

Dr. Kevin Kelly leads Legacy of Hope’s Scientific Review Board to seek out and support the most promising cancer research in Philadelphia using a merit-based system.  He is Jefferson’s Director of Solid Tumor Oncology.

David April

David is the founder of the Fishtown Beer Runners, an organization with chapters all over the world based here in Philadelphia.

joseph ruggieri, jr

Education: Bachelor’s of Science from West Chester University in Management and Finance

Bio: As a member of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.’s upper management team, Joseph brings a wealth of knowledge regarding finances, management, team-building and planning to the Legacy of Hope board. Joseph linked up with Michael, our President, and Wells Fargo began supporting Legacy of Hope annually.

“My father passed away from what started as Colon Cancer in 2015. Cancer is horrible and if there is something I can do to help others impacted I would want to be a part of it.”

mary chicorelli

Professional:  Mary is a certified city planner for Philadelphia, a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the Pro Bono Honor Roll First Judicial District of Philadelphia.

Bio: Mary’s insight into the legal world is invaluable to Legacy of Hope, both in keeping our daily operations moving fluidly as well as making connections for our patients and their families when needed.

“Michael reached out to me about 2 years ago through mutual friends. We worked together to help a woman with stage 4 cancer get her electricity turned back on after it was shut off during the winter. I’ve been 100% supportive of Mike’s vision since then.”

Kimberly S. Reed

An award winning international speaker, author, corporate trainer and diversity, equality and inclusion executive, nationally recognized thought leader, expert, strategist and advisor to some of the world’s most influential organizations in global professional services, health care, financial services, consumer products and pharmaceutical industries.

Kimberly is a seasoned leader in transforming organizations into high-performing enterprises and challenging leaders to live without limits, with more than 20 years of HR, talent acquisition, and diversity & inclusion experience; successfully turning around troubled diversity practices by designing, building, leading, and shaping high-performing cultures at global organizations with robust strategies, global employee development programs and enterprise-wide initiatives that have increased revenue growth and organizational brand eminence.

Dr. Claudia Capparelli, PhD

Affiliations: Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center

Education: PhD, University of Calabria, Cosenza, Italy – 2011

Focus & Impact:  Focus on the role of the SOX10 transcription factor with regard to tumor cell heterogeneity and plasticity across multiple genotypes in melanoma. Investigating how SOX10 plasticity/heterogeneity affects the response to MEKi and anti-ErbB3 combinations in WT BRAF melanoma patients. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Outrun the Sun Melanoma Research Scholar Award

  • Unical Fellowship Visiting Scholar

  • International Pigment Cell Conference Travel Award

  • Best Poster Presentation, Ninth Annual Jefferson Post-doctoral Research

  • INPDAP Fellowship for Student Merit 

  • University of Calabria Fellowships for Student Merit 

Bryan Lathrop

Bio Coming Soon

Maree Lavo

Bio Coming Soon

Carol Sollenberger

Bio Coming Soon

Rebecca Blinn

Bio Coming Soon

Nia Andrews

Bio Coming Soon

Dr. Qing Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

Affiliations: The Wistar Institute, The Chen Laboratory, University of Maryland

Education: PhD,Immunology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo (Dean’s Award for outstanding dissertation) – 2006

Focus & Impact:  Focus is on the molecular mechanisms of brain metastasis originating from primary tumors like breast cancer, and the interplay between cancer cells and the stromal cells that populate the brain microenvironment. 

Publications: Publications Link

Honors & Awards​:

  • Legacy of Hope Merit Award

  • Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation for Health and Policy Award

  • Susan G. Komen, CCR Basic/Translational and Clinical application

  • The V Foundation for Cancer Research Award

  • Dissertation Research Award, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation 

Michael Rowe

Awards:

Volatile Media Management’s Mover, Shaker, Changemaker Award – February 2017

Miles Mack Community Services & Leadership Honorable Mention – 2016 TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2015

TJUH Emergency Department Technician of the Year, Physicians Choice Award – 2014

Bio:

With his free time so limited, Michael manages to fuse his work with his other passion: running. Whether it is with the Fishtown Beer Runners, our own Team Relentless Hope, or his closest friends, Michael can often be spotted on the streets of Philadelphia keeping himself fit and active.