Volunteer Spotlight: How Karen Sani became a CF Foundation teamMATE

In just four short years, Karen Sani has become the ultimate CF Foundation teamMATE at the Northeastern New York Chapter. She is an inspirational volunteer who motivates everyone around her to support those with cystic fibrosis.

| 4 min read
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Dora Nagy
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As a writer, I have worked to capture stories in the nonprofit space my whole career and have met many amazing volunteers along the way. Although they come from all walks of life, they share a common trait: a selfless dedication to help others in need. The CF community volunteers are a particularly impassioned group, ready to do whatever it takes to accelerate the search for a one-time cure for all those living with CF. 

One CF volunteer who really stands out is Karen Sani, of Saratoga Springs, New York. During the four years she has volunteered with the CF Foundation's Northeastern New York Chapter, Karen has made a strong mark -- taking on myriad responsibilities, from writing letters to donors to supporting social media communications and preparing for events, to name just a few.

“She comes into our office almost daily and helps out wherever can,” said Donna Clark, executive director of the chapter. “From loading a van with event supplies to route marking for CF Cycle for Life, she embraces everything that we do!”

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Donna Clark (left) and Karen Sani (right) at the 2016 Volunteer Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

What makes Karen's volunteerism truly unique is that unlike many volunteers, who give their time because they are supporting a cause that affects their lives personally, Karen gives to CF out of the goodness of her heart. She initially became versed in the CF Foundation's work when, several years ago, her youngest son, Ben, was experiencing some health issues and doctors were concerned that he might have CF. When the test results came back negative, that didn't stop Karen from wanting to help those with this devastating disease. She said, “What I learned just weighed on my heart.” 

Karen immediately contacted Donna. It turned out that Karen not only wanted to volunteer, she wanted to make a financial contribution as well. In less than a week from learning about cystic fibrosis, Karen and her husband, Farzad, had made a major gift to the CF Foundation's Northeastern New York Chapter as part of the Foundation's Milestones II: Accelerating the Search for a Cure campaign. 

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Karen meets with Richard Mattingly (left), former executive vice president and COO of the CF Foundation, and Joe O’Donnell (right), chair of the Milestones II major giving campaign, at the 2014 Volunteer Leadership Conference in Bethesda, Md.

Karen is the kind of donor who not only writes a check but also makes others, such as high-profile business associates, aware of CF. She often accompanies Donna to meet potential sponsors and donors because she has no fear of asking for donations. She and her husband also personally contribute to their local events, such as the 65 Roses GalaGreat Strides and CF Cycle for Life, which she often helps plan.

Last year, Karen became a volunteer advocate when she attended the 2015 March on the Hill in Washington, D.C. But as she puts it, she really feels like she advocates every day for the CF community. She talks about the Foundation to whomever will listen -- from hotel employees to people who sit next to her on airplanes. 

“I believe that if and when I can spread awareness, I should. Being an advocate never stops,” Karen explains. “Every time I walk into my local chapter, I feel excited. I have been a part of other nonprofits, but none have touched my heart like this one. I believe that one day we will find a cure for CF.”

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Dora previously worked at the Foundation as a writer and editor. During her tenure, she loved to listen to others share their memories and experiences, and consumed storytelling in all of its different forms. She constantly looks for the uniqueness in everyone's story. Dora has a B.A. in communications from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.S. in public policy and administration from the London School of Economics. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Dora was raised mainly in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area where she currently resides today.

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