Gentry Magazine page 2

Do Unto Others

 

By Emily Assad

Gentry Magazine

January 2005

 

Five little words inspire a CAN-do attitude


 

Do nice things for people. A simple sentence with a powerful punch. When Jackie Whittier Kubicka wrote these five little words down in her notebook, she realized their strength and what it could mean to a family in crisis. She understood this because, at one time, she WAS that family. Being on the receiving end of hard times led Kubicka to form FamiliesCAN, a program that works to pay for the non-medical expenses of cancer patients and their families, expenses that retain remnants of their pre-crisis lifestyle.

 

Kubicka's husband was diagnosed with cancer six years ago and she remembers when the two of them would spend every day driving back and forth to the UCLA Medical Center--all while she was seven months pregnant. "We were practically living at a Holiday Inn in Burbank when we had our child," Kubicka adds. "I was definitely in a fragile state and needed someone to turn to." Even though her husband's cancer went into remission, she still can't help remembering those darkest hours and how alone she had felt. Never wanting anyone to experience this, shed decided to start a program aimed at helping families gain both financial and emotional independence.

 

Kubicka knew she wanted her program's target group to be adult cancer patients who were trying to support at least one child of eighteen years or younger. Whether it was paying the rent, paying for their kid's karate lessons or just buying some groceries, she wanted to see to it that the family's most basic needs were taken care of. "What we pay for may not always be necessary but it allows families to live a normal life that isn't actually normal," Kubicka explains.

 

Jackie then turned to her father's foundation, the Ronald Whittier Family Foundation, to help her get the program up and running. A successful retired Senior Vice President of Intel Corporation, Whittier was able to donate a hefty $1 million to his daughter's program. "Without him, there wouldn't be a FamiliesCAN." Kubicka explains.

 

In October 2000, FamiliesCAN started the program with the mission to help one new family a week. And now, four years later, FamiliesCAN has provided for over two hundred cancer patients in Santa Clara County. This program has been hugely successful".W hen I wrote that quote down on my notebook,"Kubicka remembers", I meant it. I wanted to make these people happy." Kubicka knows first hand that families struggling with cancer need to get away from it all. So she takes them to events, such as Disney on Ice, to take their minds off their stressful lives.

 

As the founder and president, Kubicka has done much for FamiliesCAN, but she won't take all the credit. For the past four years, Program Director Eduarda Francisco has served as a conduit to resources in the community." I just couldn't do it without her," Kubicka says, "she is absolutely wonderful."

 

Thanks to people like Kubicka and Francisco, FamiliesCAN continues to survive life's crises and do it in an emotionally healthy way.