It is our pleasure to highlight the special people behind the organizations that care for individuals anticipating or coping with the death of a family member. We hope this brings further awareness to why all of these organizations TOGETHER have such an incredible impact on families.
Sarah Manes, Angel Foundation
Meet Sarah. You can’t help but love her. Her passion for life is contagious, and her compassion for others is simply inspiring. Sarah works extremely hard to bring support and care to the families Angel Foundation serves. Aside from her daily priorities, you will see her at every event with that huge smile and a warm hug to greet you. She is a genuine connector of people, making sure everyone knows each other and their missions. While her answers to our questions below give great insight to who she is, it is what she doesn’t say that makes her a gift to so many. In addition to her work at Angel Foundation, Sarah volunteers in her spare time by helping kids and families that are grieving the death of a parent or sibling. You will find her volunteering at Camp Erin with her heart wide open to provide hope to them, and you will find her volunteering with Youth Grief Services providing that same compassion for the families they serve. Sarah works hard at a job she loves but she LIVES a life filled with helping others while asking for nothing in return. THIS is what we find so special about Sarah, and why she is so important to all of us at Brighter Days Grief Center. So, we encourage you to read on…we think you will find her to be pretty special too.
1) What is the main purpose of your role?
As VP of Programs and Community Relations, I am responsible for overseeing our two mission-based programs: Facing Cancer Together (FCT) and Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA). FCT focuses specifically on families, providing parents and caregivers tools and resources they need to parent through cancer. We offer a variety of educational, therapeutic and social programs, all free-of-charge, ranging from summer camps to parenting classes, to monthly teen activities and more. EFA provides financial assistance to adults in active cancer treatment, living in/treated in the Twin Cities. These funds are allocated for non-medical expenses, and are made available to those who demonstrate financial need. Collectively, these programs are designed to offer immediate and meaningful support when cancer strikes.
Additionally, my role takes me out into the community, representing Angel Foundation at various events, providing public speaking opportunities and raising awareness about our vital programs and services.
2) Share a personal story that brought you to your role or to your cause.
My Grandma Babe, a 40+ year breast cancer survivor, was a leader and advocate in educating people about breast cancer prevention and detection. She instilled in me a very strong desire and passion to also become a cancer advocate and teacher, especially focusing on children and young families. I feel very honored that I have had the privilege to work in oncology non-profits for more than twelve years.
3) What are you most passionate about in your role in terms of helping the people your organization serves?
I am honored to be in a position where I can advocate for adult cancer patients and their families in a meaningful way. I truly feel so lucky that this is my life/career, and not just because of what I get to do, but because of the people I get to work with. I am grateful to be part of such a passionate team of people, who come to work every day motivated to make a difference. We are proud of the fact that we fill a very specific need within the Twin Cities cancer community— educating parents on how to parent through cancer, and providing financial assistance to adults with any cancer diagnosis. Our shared passion is what makes Angel Foundation thrive!
4) Share a story about a family or individual that received support from your organization that had a deep impact on you.
We were recently contacted by a family of four: the mother had stage-4 breast cancer, the father was the caregiver and they had two school-aged children at home. Their initial request was for financial assistance, and we were proud to be able to help them pay their mortgage that month. However, as the mother’s disease progressed, her family realized they needed more (and a different kind of) support. The parents needed to learn how to communicate and talk to their kids about her declining health. We invited them to attend one of our newer programs, a family support group designed to help parents living with advanced cancer and their children. Since then, this mother has died, and we have continued to be able to support her family by providing them with resources and referrals to grief organizations, such as Brighter Days.
5) Why do you think Brighter Days is important to your organization, and to the families you serve?
Angel Foundation strives to support families during all stages of their cancer experience, from the initial diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. That being said, we are lucky to live in a community so rich in resources, such as Brighter Days Grief Center, that can offer more specialized services to guide families through the grieving process. The unfortunate reality of working for a cancer organization is that many of those we serve die from this disease, leaving behind grieving family and friends. Supporting our families fully is truly a collective effort between multiple organizations; we couldn’t do the important work we do without other organizations stepping in and helping at a deeper level.
6) Please share some personal information about yourself-family, hobbies, and special interests…anything that will help to show the genuine and compassionate side of YOU!
In my free time, I love spending time with my wife and dog, and our family and friends. I am a coffee-snob (decaf only!), my favorite foods are ice cream and green beans, and I enjoy taking long walks and being outside in hot weather. I also play flute in the St. Louis Park Community Band and love hosting dinner parties.