Ripple Effect

Throw a stone into water; and ripples spread out. It’s easy to lose hope in humanity when our world feels like it’s been usurped by divisiveness, bad news, and a population more obsessed with taking selfies than making time for others. But don’t be fooled by all the negativity. Humanity’s better angels still abound—especially during the holidays, when empathy and gratitude seem to have more chance of prevailing. Operation Santa, an annual initiative started by Legacy of Hope in 2020, provides a much needed avenue for empathy. The objective was simple—provide gifts and necessities for the families of Philadelphia cancer patients who had no idea how they might have Christmas for their loved ones. Nothing extravagant, just gifts to unwrap, like a jacket, or toy. In 2020 Operation Santa “adopted” five families; that number grew to seven last year; and 2022 was looking fantastic with a total of ten families adopted by Operation Santa participants. Then, in a sequence of events perhaps best described as something straight out of a screenplay, those ten adopted families became 20, and created an exponential ripple effect of the sort that can restore one’s hope in humanity. Here’s how things unfolded.

It starts in West Deptford, New Jersey at ,ICS, a second generation, family-owned printing and mailing business that started in 1965 when two friends, Richard Bastian and Richard Prendergast, opened a tiny one-room print and copy facility at 13th and Sansom in center city Philly. Their bread and butter was printing church bulletins and making copies for law firms. Fast forward 58 years and the company that started as Instant Copy Services—now simply ICS—has evolved into a data management marketing, full marketing agency and production facility with roughly 350 employees, and a major expansion on the horizon. A far cry from their humble one-room beginnings, their facilities now require more than 250,000 square feet to process a hundred million pieces of mail a month; they’ll surpass a billion pieces this year.

While ICS’s growth and longevity represent a remarkable success story, what really sets this company apart is its commitment to giving back. Those values start at the top—with management that walks the walk, rather than giving lip service—and are unequivocally shared by its employee base, as evidenced by their creation of and participation in endeavors like adopting a homeless shelter in South Jersey, or sending gifts to Mercy Ministries for distribution, or holding a recent Ukrainian outreach that resulted in employees bringing in pallets full of clothes, diapers, and food. This level of community involvement seems to be woven into the fabric of the people who make up ICS.

“Our employee response is just unbelievable.” say Matt Mazzoni and Dennis Fish, who were put in charge of getting more employees involved in new outreach and volunteer projects this year. “We say, ‘ICS is doing something and they respond in force.’” The robust employee response is likely a function of ICS supporting groups suggested by their employees. Mazzoni and Fish share “We were looking for new ideas. But in all honesty we didn’t have to do much.”

Enter Jimmy Tran, a mechanic at ICS, who approached Mazzoni and Fish to see if the company might make a donation to help the family adopted by the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy where he trains—Logic Philly, ,recently featured in our blog.

It’s unlikely that Tran could have predicted the outcome of his inquiry. He had thrown a stone into the water; its ripples were growing in size and number—Mazzoni and Fish wanted to learn more about Operation Santa now that it was on their radar. “We reached out to Gina. Once we learned the details of the initiative and the scope of Legacy of Hope’s work, we adopted ten families. We were confident we’d get high rates of participation from our front office, which consists of administrative, sales and marketing. But we were dumbfounded when our second shift and weekend production crews pulled together $2,500 in three or four days, after receiving limited details about ICS joining forces with Operation Santa. They knew what the gist was. Their generosity was [and is] staggering.”

The ripples continued when ICS created ten Operation Santa employee teams (OSET), one for each of the adopted families; and, in addition to covering gifts for the families, agreed to match employee contributions. This shared sense of purpose goes a long way to explain the longevity of ICS employees, many of whom have stayed with the company for years and years. Mazzoni and Fish describe the culture as “a family atmosphere; so we want to give back. It’s important to us to try to keep it local. Originally we were from Philadelphia; so we have an affinity with Philly. Now that we’re in Gloucester County, we’re also working with Angels Community Outreach (of south Jersey.).”

ICS’s mindset of giving back may start at the top, but it is clearly embraced by the company’s rank and file. “Once word got out, our employees said, ‘Hey, we want to help out with this.’ They have been incredibly generous with what we’ll be delivering to the families we’ve adopted. I think there’s going to be an outpouring of emotion that I don’t know a lot of us are really ready for.” confesses Fish.

“The family that I’m taking presents to is moving into an apartment; and we learned that they lacked some basic necessities. Once again, when our people found out about this, they showed no hesitation to lend a helping hand. One of our employees, who also works part-time at a rental center, mentioned the situation to his bosses there, which resulted in them donating mattresses and a table to help get the family started. Then another employee stepped up by donating plates, and another some silverware.” Their generosity keeps expanding, like ripples in water coming back on themselves.

The following email excerpts from an ICS employee team leader give testimony to the magnitude of her team’s generosity, their above-and-beyond dedication to Operation Santa, and its unexpected effects—strengthening and creating employee bonds, along with a sense of community.

“I am leading the group who is sponsoring Michelle’s family this Christmas! Firstly, we absolutely love how humble their family’s list is. We were hoping to get a few more ideas for them. Do they need clothing? Shoes? If so, please get us some sizes. Also, is there possibly one big item that they each want?…We were considering purchasing each child a Nintendo Switch. Do you think this is something you could check in with Mom about?….Would it be okay to deliver a Christmas dinner for eight to the family?”

“During our time together, we all got to share about someone we love who has been affected by cancer and tell stories about them. It was a great time of reflection, and really put us in the true holiday spirit. Providing Christmas for Michelle and her kids brought us together in a way we were not expecting. The members of our team do not work together in the same departments, or even on the same shifts. We had people staying late and coming in early to get everything perfect for Michelle and the kids. It’s a testament to the love each of these people have for their neighbors in need. We feel truly grateful that we were able to work with Legacy of Hope this year. I am so excited for Michelle to create magical Christmas memories with her children this year.”

Such commitment is inspiring, especially when considering that the excerpts above describe only one of ten Operation Santa teams at ICS. One can only imagine the extent of the impact their efforts will have on the families they’re helping, and on their coworkers as well.

Fish recalls “When we started expanding our outreach programs last spring (ICS President) Matt Bastian said something that stuck with me; and that same sentiment was echoed by John Staudenmayer of ICS management, at our holiday party just last weekend when he said, ‘We have the ability and the responsibility to give back.’” Fish and Mazzoni agree “We’re very lucky—lucky as a business, lucky as people—to be able to embody those ideals.”

The next time the world gets you down, take a deep breath and remember the rock that Jimmy Tran threw, and how the generosity of ICS and his coworkers created ripple effects that far exceeded his initial desire of helping just one family. It’s a beautiful chain reaction. If you’d like to create your own ripple effect this holiday season or one that continues to address needs that go beyond, please make a tax-deductible donation at ,Operation Santa or ,www.legacydonations.life

Happy Holidays!

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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.