Building a Foundation from the Ground Up
Championing the Needs of Einstein's Breast Cancer Patients from 100 miles away in New York City
When a friend of the family's daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 25 Claudia Pohorilenko was shocked and stunned. Shortly after that, when the doctors at Einstein gave the same diagnosis to her mother Olga, she was devastated.
Rather than pace the floor of her New York apartment with worry, the young hedge and retail consumer fund expert decided she had to do something. That 'something' turned out to be a foundation that Claudia set up using her own money to support women's health initiatives. That she did it at the young age of 36 when the financial market was in a shambles makes her accomplishment even more impressive.
"I was inspired by the need to do something for my friend and my mother," she explains. "It was time for me to give back. My boss has two charitable foundations and that prompted me to try it myself."
With guidance from an attorney, support from her brother Gregory, and an enthusiastic network of business contacts, Claudia raised the funds to establish the Pohorilenko Family Foundation. "I found it was easier, and I could raise more money, through a series of small events rather than one large one," she explains.
For one event called shopper's delight, supporters purchased a ticket that provided discounts and the advice of a personal shopper at a top New York department store. Claudia also organized small fundraising dinner parties and brought in speakers to talk about health-related issues.
Her small efforts reaped big rewards. In the first year she raised $10,000, and by year two her foundation had raised more than $20,000 - all of which she donated to the Women in Need (WIN) program at Einstein's Marion-Louise Saltzman Women's Center.
"My mother received the most outstanding care at Einstein," says Claudia. "Her doctors watched over her like a hawk and used every cancer therapy available to make her well. They were so thorough in everything they did."
Ultimately, Claudia hopes that all breast cancer patients will have access to the same quality care and information that has helped her mother fight the disease. "It is shocking how little people know about cancer," she says. "People don't really understand that you can get breast cancer at any age, that it isn't just older women. They don't know how it affects not just the person who has it, but the whole family. Many don't even know the full range of their treatment options."
If Claudia has anything to say about it, that won't be the case much longer. The Pohorilenko Foundation is giving women options and hope. Through her foundation, Claudia wants to achieve even more. Her future goal is to raise enough money to help support the development of innovative medicines and technologies.
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