While growing up, the four children of Robert and Margaret Genirs (Jeanmarie, Joanie, Kevin and Tim) were taught to live by a philosophy of giving. "My dad's view on life is that it should be broken down into thirds: The first third you learn, the second third you earn and the final third you return," said Joanie Genirs.
Philanthropy: A Family Passion
As the children grew up, finished their education and entered the work force, they made financial contributions to various charities. But the list got very short when their mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"We truly began to understand what the Waxman Foundation was doing and how it was different from other cancer research organizations. It was then that I consciously made a decision to hone all of my contributions to the Foundation," said Joanie.
Making contributions to the Foundation has since become a family project. "We figured the best way to make a difference would be to concentrate [our gifts] within a single charity," said Jeanmarie Genirs.
For more than a decade, the Genirs siblings have given generously to the SWCRF, pulling in their spouses, friends and other family members. Together, they have raised more than $200,000.
Although Joanie's husband, James Harrington, never had the chance to meet his mother-in-law, he has supported the SWCRF by running marathons, raising awareness and educating his family about the Foundation's work.
Why Support the Waxman Foundation?
Although the Genirs children lost their mother to pancreatic cancer, they're dedicated to finding a cure for all cancers. "Cancer can hit anyone at any time—it's such a powerful disease, and the only way to beat it is to get to the root cause," said Joanie.
As donors and stakeholders, they believe the Foundation wisely and efficiently leverages every dollar invested. "There are some charities where you give and you feel like it goes into some black hole. With the Waxman Foundation, we're constantly updated on how they're using the money, what forward-looking projects they have, and what past successes they've had. We feel like we're a part of this organization as opposed to some blind givers," said Jeanmarie.
Reflecting on the amount their family has raised over the years, the two women are humble and say they feel challenged to do more.
"To understand cancer and how many lives it takes away and how many lives it affects, it's just not enough," said Jeanmarie. "We look at the number and say, 'We have to do more. What else can we do? Who else can we get involved?' It is really important to our family to try and help beat this disease."
*This article is an abridged version of the article that appeared in the Fall 2011 Waxman Report newsletter.