Medical Charities in Need of Donations

These two foundations are worthy causes for both patients and the doctors who care for them.
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As the summer kicks in, you're probably thinking about the beach, ice cream and fireworks. Others, however, are busy with charitable work.

If you can't spare your time, then here are a few organizations worth giving to.

Charna Radbell, who died at age 36 after an eight-year struggle with cancer, didn't want a building named after her or just research done in her name. She simply wanted to give people with terminal illnesses a chance to enjoy a good day.

Her parents, Arlene and Larry Radbell, are doing just that. They started off working with several nonprofit organizations, including breast-cancer foundation Women at Risk and Chai Lifeline, which offers support for ill children and their families.

And a month before Charna's death, she and the Radbells started the

Charna Radbell Foundation Gift of Sunshine Fund. Charna often traveled for treatments, and during one of her trips on an air ambulance, she decided that her mission in life was to help others who weren't as fortunate to have access to superior medical care.

The Charna Radbell Foundation's goal is to provide hospice and ambulance services for cancer patients and to create educational scholarships and special camp opportunities for children with cancer.

Most recently, the foundation is set to launch

Charna's Kids Club at the

Morgan Stanley

Children's Hospital at New York Presbyterian Hospital.

This siblings program was developed to recognize that when one child is very sick, the whole family is affected. With this in mind, the program's staff will help create different activities for patients' siblings, allowing them to express their feelings in relation to their sibling's illness and an opportunity to meet kids in similar circumstances. All the activities are designed to decrease the children's anxieties and uphold communication among the whole family.

It's often very difficult for the siblings of sick children, and the program will foster understanding and offer them the attention they need, too.

The Kids Club has yet to open, but "we signed our partnership last month and will be opening it in September," says Arlene Radbell.

The Charna Radbell Foundation also holds various events and fundraisers to raise awareness about cancer, including a gala annual benefit at the Harmonie Club in New York last week that brought in over $200,000. A silent auction featured tickets for tapings of

Late Night with Conan O'Brien

and

The View

, dinner for two at the Palm Restaurant and a three-night stay at the

Intercontinental San Juan Hotel.

Health Care Head Start

Another worthwhile organization is New York's

Mount Sinai Center for Multicultural Affairs, which focuses on increasing diversity in medical communities across the country and thus improving community health care.

"Over 8,000 youth have engaged in the programs. Thirty-five to 50 physicians have been created" as a result of the programs, says director Dr. Gary Butts.

"Early exposure for many kids makes the difference and gives them the opportunity to think about health careers as options ... and helps them successfully navigate towards professional careers," says Butts.

The center's work has shown results: 20% of Mt. Sinai's student body is composed of groups underrepresented in medicine, compared with only 12% in other medical schools nationwide. "Work begins with early exposure and enrichment with our pipeline program that impacts kids as early as seventh grade," Dr. Butts explains.

One of its most successful programs is the Center for Excellence in Youth Education, which partners with local public schools and colleges to give socially and economically challenged students opportunities to study science.

The center recently honored 187 outstanding students on June 5, along with their faculty members and mentors. Two CEYE graduates, Dr. Julie H. Kim and Dr. Susan Regisford, served as the ceremony's keynote speakers, demonstrating the real-life results of the program.

The honorees were recognized for their yearlong studies in several areas, including biotechnology, DNA technology, neurobiology, cardiology and environmental toxicology -- all subjects that will help jump-start their future in medicine.

The center has affected the lives of over 10,000 students and has had a profound effect on whether they succeed in this field. "More than 95% of the students who participate in the program have gone on to college, and many have become health professionals," says Butts.

Another focus of the center, the Summer Research Fellowship Program, offers research opportunities for underrepresented minority and disadvantaged undergraduate students to work with Mt. Sinai faculty and students to learn about medical issues specifically affecting minorities.

Contributions to any of the programs can be made directly to the CMCA.

No matter where you are this summer, it's high time to consider the many ways people are giving back -- and to be inspired to contribute yourself.

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