TeamNEGU Blog

Going All In for Kids Fighting Cancer

October 13, 2020

Last month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Suzanne Lee, Senior Manager, Corporate & Employee Giving at Genentech. While on the search for a way to keep employees engaged with their annual “Genentech Gives Back Week” during the pandemic, she got connected with the Jessie Rees Foundation. During this week dedicated to volunteerism, about 5,000 of their employees supported a variety of organizations that their company partners with. This year, the company-wide program was virtual and remote, which gave employees in South San Francisco and across the country the opportunity to get involved!

Genentech has a history of giving back to their local communities, and Suzanne’s team helps connect employees with opportunities to make a positive impact. When it comes to organizations like the Jessie Rees Foundation that support patients and their families, their mission is near and dear to her organization’s heart. “We look to give time and talent whenever we can; we call it ‘going all in!’ We knew many of our employees were balancing homeschooling their kids and working full time and being safe, so we had to consider how best to shift our programs to maintain our impact,” shared Suzanne.

Suzanne focused on finding flexible activities for employees that allowed them to engage safely from their own homes. Her colleagues fell in love with knitting and crocheting beanies, as it was something they could do on their own time and as a way to de-stress. To build a sense of camaraderie, they were encouraged to host department meetings during “Genentech Gives Back Week” to discuss what they did and how they gave back. “We hope that by encouraging people to share with one another, we are helping to strengthen the connection between employees during a time when many people feel isolated,” said Suzanne.

We are so grateful to partner with a Compassion Company such as Genentech that places an emphasis on supporting and encouraging kids fighting cancer to NEGU, even amidst a pandemic!

Here are some quotes the Genentech team shared with us on how engaging with Jessie’s mission has impacted them:

“I was so impressed to see that this non-profit was founded by a young girl, Jessie, who while fighting the cancer that ultimately took her life, wanted to make the lives of other kids with cancer better. What an amazing person Jessie was and her parents also who continue the work

she started to keep her legacy alive. During this pandemic, I have found crocheting to be a relaxing activity, so this Give Back opportunity was perfect for me.”

“I’m a cancer survivor myself (7 years and counting!) and I know what hair loss looks and feels like. I know how hard it is to maintain body temperature during chemo. As an adult, I also know how tough cancer is and I can only imagine what it’s like for a child. So a little splash of color or something soft and fuzzy can brighten their day.”

“This was my first year at Genentech, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part in Give Back Week! It was great to have this opportunity to make a difference, even as we were in the middle of our Shelter-in-Place and a global pandemic. I’m looking forward to participating again in future years!”