Philanthropy Insider
JULY 2005
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Third Graders Raise Funds to Help Cancer Patients at UCSF
Phil Genet (back row, far right) and Rebecca Genet (far left) with her class
Rebecca Genet shares a special bond with the third graders she teaches at Brandeis Hillel Day School in Marin County, her alma mater. So when her stepmother died of cancer, her students wanted to comfort Rebecca and help others with the disease.

At school, the eight-year-olds practiced tzedakah—Hebrew for charity—donating small amounts to a class collection each week. Knowing how much Christine Genet meant to Rebecca, they decided to give this money to the fund Rebecca's family had established at UCSF to support cancer patients.

Deeply touched, Rebecca said she would match their gifts, as did her father and sister. "The kids were so excited," Rebecca recalls. "They redoubled their efforts, giving money they earned from chores and anywhere they could find it."

Rebecca's father Phil Genet visited the class a few weeks after Christine died in May. There, the students presented him with simple white envelopes containing everything from coins to large bills—$372 in all. With the matching funds, the children contributed more than $1,500 to the Christine O. Genet and Family Fund for Patient Support Services at UCSF.

Christine and Phil established the fund in May to provide services to UCSF Comprehensive Cancer patients, including counseling, temporary housing, and transportation costs. They have also contributed generously to the UCSF Cancer Resource Center, an information and support hub for cancer patients and their families.

"These gifts are to honor my wife," says Phil. "Christine had a big heart and wanted to help others with cancer who could not afford the amazing care she received at UCSF." During Christine's three-year battle with lung cancer, he explains, the Genets found all her care—from the medical to the emotional—to be exceptional. "It was such a team effort," he notes. "Everyone at UCSF was always so available and kind."

During the class visit, Phil gave each of the 14 students a sunflower, Christine's favorite, as a thank-you gift. "Talking to the kids was very therapeutic for me," he says. "They were so genuine."

When they asked what cancer was like, Phil cited A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: "I told them it was the best of times and the worst of times. The best was being on an amazing journey surrounded by people who oozed love, support, and caring."

To learn more about the Christine O. Genet and Family Fund at UCSF, contact Alison Gray at 415/514-1646 or
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