REPOSTED from The Times Tribune by GIA MAZUR
MICHAEL J. MULLEN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Laura Marion gives back to the community not only through her job at Allied Services Hospice but also as a volunteer and board member with Foundation for Cancer Care.
Laura Pikulski Marion’s life mission to spread light and hope came out of the darkness.
When Mrs. Marion’s father, Steve Pikulski, died from pancreatic cancer, she “wanted to do something that I felt connected me to him in some way,” the South Abington Twp. resident recalled. “That’s where all my passion comes from.”
The warmhearted treatment her father received through hospice moved her so much that she went back to school to become a hospice nurse. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from University of Scranton and today is Allied Services Hospice director of operations, helping families and patients receive the best possible care.
Mrs. Marion hopes to change people’s assumptions about hospice care.
“Hospice does not mean the end; it means hope. I wish I could shout it from the rooftops,” she said. “It can be such a beacon of light for people, and that’s what drives me every single day.”
Because Allied Services Hospice is a nonprofit, Mrs. Marion said, anything hospice brings in goes back into its programs and patients. This is important to her, as fundraising that directly benefits the local community also sparked her interest in another local group.
Foundation for Cancer Care began in 2009, and Mrs. Marion, a board member, has been involved since its inception. After a friend invited her to a meeting, she knew the nonprofit was how she could give back. FCC provides money and services to area families dealing with cancer. That can include giving families gift cards for gas and groceries, helping pay their utility bills and covering hotel stays for parents and guardians of children receiving out-of-town treatment.
A grassroots organization whose workers all are volunteers, FCC found a great need for funding items insurance does not cover, Mrs. Marion said. Unless someone has lived through it, Mrs. Marion said, it can be difficult for some people to understand how financially devastating it is when a loved one gets sick. Her family was fortunate financially when her father was sick, but she knows not everyone has the same blessings they did.
The foundation holds several fundraisers throughout the year in order to continue to help these families and patients, such as the Thanksgiving Run/Walk in November, which raised $16,000, and a “pink” basketball game for breast cancer awareness.
Whether through her work with hospice or FCC, meeting the people she helps and witnessing the difference she makes is Mrs. Marion’s most rewarding experience. From a man who lived six months longer than expected thanks to the hope hospice gave him and his family, to the father of a young woman battling cancer expressing his gratitude for the foundation’s help, to the woman who got a free mammogram through FCC and caught her cancer and treat it before it spread, Mrs. Marion keeps these stories of thankfulness and hope close to her heart.
“It’s overwhelming when you feel like you’re making a difference,” she said. “Giving back through FCC and my role in hospice, it’s just so fulfilling.”
She counts her blessings, from her wonderful parents, including her mother, Barbara Pikulski; supportive husband, Michael (“The best person I know,” she said); healthy children Meghan, Clair, Michael and Will; and a great “second set of parents” in her in-laws, Hal and Mary Marion. And she continues to pay it forward — for her good fortune and for her dad.
“The fact that I’m making a difference in the lives of people with cancer and, also, in the lives of people who are terminally sick, is very fulfilling for me,” Mrs. Marion said. “At the end of the day, if I’ve helped one person, or a few people along the way, my life is very fulfilled.”
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Meet Laura Pikulski Marion
At home: She lives in South Abington Twp. with her husband, Michael, and their four children, Meghan, Clair, Michael and Will. She is the daughter of Barbara Pikulski and the late Steve Pikulski and the daughter-in-law of Hal and Mary Marion.
At work: She is Allied Services Hospice director of operations and a fifth-grade boys basketball coach at Our Lady of Peace School, Clarks Green.
Aspirations: To be a positive role model for children and to instill an appreciation of blessings onto them, to educate as many people as possible on the benefits of hospice and to continue to provide exceptional care to those with advanced illnesses
Diversions: Watching her children’s sports and activities, spending time with her husband, running, coaching, reading and golfing
Quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou