Philadelphia Police Officer joins fight so no cancer patient goes hungry.

Mother Theresa was quoted as saying “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” One young woman who is doing her part working toward something wonderful is 12-year Philadelphia Police veteran and Community Relations Officer Vanessa Washington. Working alongside Legacy of Hope as part of its Emergency Patient Support Network, Officer Washington has made a tremendous impact by delivering much-needed groceries to the homes of local cancer patients and their families.

An often overlooked but critical issue of cancer is the financial toxicity the disease imposes on patients and families. All too often, cancer patients go hungry because of financial distress brought on by lost jobs, lost hours and wages, and the insurmountable cost of treating the disease. Legacy of Hope created the Emergency Patient Support Network in partnership with the Philadelphia Police Department, ,Brown’s Super Stores, Philadelphia hospitals, and the United Way, to effectively eliminate hunger among Philadelphia’s cancer patients. Patients at considerable risk of going hungry are identified by oncology social workers from every major hospital in Philadelphia, and the Emergency Patient Support Network jumps into action. Every Tuesday morning, Philadelphia Police officers pick up healthy groceries purchased by Legacy of Hope from three different grocery stores and deliver them to the doors of 15-20 cancer patients and families.

“I enjoy being able to use my uniform to make a positive impact on anyone I encounter during my tour of duty,” Officer Washington stated, a beaming smile coming through loud and clear during our telephone interview. “Many times the uniform is viewed in a negative light; I use this to change the narrative one person at a time, no matter how long it takes.” Officer Washington recalled the experience of knocking on doors and watching cancer patients glow with excitement to see the groceries lined up on their front steps. “It’s truly heartwarming, it’s the best feeling ever, when we get out of the car with groceries and they answer the door…you think they may be ill, not feeling well, they may not be in good spirits. Wrong. Their faces light up!”

Officer Washington is a reminder that the Philadelphia Police Department puts the community first. In her role as Community Relations Officer, she does everything in her power to serve the families of the 19th District in any capacity, which now includes delivering nutrition to the doorsteps of those who would otherwise go hungry. Excited to see what the future holds, Officer Washington already points out the growth of reach Legacy of Hope has developed over the past year thanks to its relationship with the police and increased funding since the launch of the, Legacy of Hope Membership Program. “I see us continuing to work together, continuing to use our contacts together, growing a network so we can branch out further. It’s about growing. It’s amazing.”

“I see us continuing to work together, continuing to use our contacts together, growing a network so we can branch out further. It’s about growing. It’s amazing.”

While the impact of the Emergency Patient Support Network among Philadelphia’s most financially distressed cancer patients has been remarkable, the impact of providing this assistance has been mutually beneficial to those involved in delivering it. Officer Washington commented, “The PPD’s partnership with Legacy of Hope not only gives officers a chance to

deliver groceries to cancer patients, it gives us a chance to deliver hope, happiness, and joy, which are lasting impressions. It also gives officers an opportunity to step into a different role, if only for a few hours. Our days are often filled with negativity and uncertainty. When we’re delivering groceries, it puts us at ease. It’s nice to know exactly what we’re going into. Something positive. We need that.”

Legacy of Hope’s Emergency Patient Support Network is overjoyed to report the number of Philadelphia cancer patients receiving delivered groceries and other support has just surpassed 1,000. This unparalleled assistance would not be possible without the 78 Phila police officers, including Officer Washington, who have participated in grocery deliveries, the ironclad partnerships Legacy of Hope has developed, and the generosity of our Legacy members and other donors. Vice President of Legacy of Hope Gina Mancuso states, “Because of our incredible partnerships, the Emergency Patient Support Network has grown into an efficient system with many moving parts yet, despite the complexity of it all, we remain personally connected to each social worker, police officer, grocer, and volunteer.” Gina also pointed out, “Serving 1,000 patients is an incredible milestone, but this is just the beginning.” Together, we are on track to completely eliminate hunger among Philadelphia cancer patients.

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Nia Andrews

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Rebecca Blinn

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Carol Sollenberger

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Maree Lavo

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Bryan Lathrop

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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.

Michele Redrow

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

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.”

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.”

David April

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

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.

greg garber

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

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.”

Michael Rowe


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


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.