Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 12: Mary Urban of NOCC Pittsburgh Chapter

I first met Mary Urban of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition- Pittsburgh Chapter in April 2011 at I re-Made It! Smart! at the GA/GI festival in the Glass Lofts. My dear friend Gina was there shopping, and after purchasing a necklace and some earrings from me, said, "Oh, you HAVE to meet Mary! She's the coolest girl...", and that description was 100% accurate. Gina brought Mary over to my table, and I knew immediately that she was someone special. Mary was bubbly, comfortable, kind, and full of life. We began to chat, and she told me about the NOCC TEALtini event that was being planned for April 28, 2011. It just so happened that teal and lime green are NOCC's signature colors, and I have a special love for all things teal. It was a match made in heaven! I had the distinct honor of creating a special piece of jewelry for the TEALtini spokesperson, Miss U-FAB, which she wore for the entire evening and then raffled off to raise money for NOCC Pittsburgh Chapter.

Mary and Miss U-FAB at TEALtini 2011
At the time I met Mary, I had no idea how personal our connection would be. Sadly, I lost my dear Bubbie (grandmother) this past June to ovarian cancer. Bubbie was my best friend and by absolute #1 fan, and she was so very proud of me for everything I did (both in business and in life), even though it was a little difficult to explain to her that Miss U-FAB was actually a man in woman's clothing. Since then, Mary and NOCC have been especially near and dear to my heart. I had the good fortune to be able to participate as a vendor at the NOCC Walk to Break the Silence this past September, which was an incredible experience and a huge success. Seeing what Mary, Nicole, and all of the girls at NOCC put together was nothing short of amazing.
My Bubbie, my best friend, and my #1 fan
Mary Urban is the oldest of six children, having three sisters and two brothers. I have never had the joy of meeting them personally, though I can imagine 5 more of the most fantastic people in the world. I am told that they are very musically inclined and have even been known to Christmas carol unsuspecting friends and neighbors like the Von Trapp Family Singers. Mary always thought that she would end up teaching in a public school; in fact, she wanted to be a middle school social studies teacher or a high school history/government teacher. While she was in college, Mary had the chance of teaching at risk elementary school students through a special program in the Salt Lake City School District. It was amazing and fun and it would have been a great jumping off point to a career teaching, but the program's budget was cut. Mary had already seen what non-profit organizations could do to supplement public school curriculum from her internship at the Holocaust Museum Houston and decided to switch her focus from a career teaching in schools to a career teaching through non-profits. Mary has worked for visionary arts organizations, parks conservancies, activist/awareness groups and many others. It seems like she has coordinated every kind of fundraising/awareness raising event from parades, galas, walk/runs, festivals, concerts, lectures and what have you.  It's sometimes been hard, and she has had her share of failures at it, but she says it was all worth it because Mary has an amazing job now with the most important message she has ever taught: take care of yourself and those you love. It's also great to be supported by people who will invest in her (Self-described) hair-brained schemes that end up working out better than she expected. Having experienced visionaries support her plans helps Mary see that gumption is half the battle most of the time.

Mary is the Chapter Manager at the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. From their office in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, they promote ovarian cancer education and awareness while supporting survivors and their families throughout western Pennsylvania, from Greene and Fayette counties in the south to Erie in the north.

Their chapter is comprised of ovarian cancer survivors, their families, friends and health care professionals and they invite anyone with an interest in raising awareness about ovarian cancer to join our efforts. Their meetings, which are open to the public, are held the first Wednesday evening of every month and include educational presentations on a wide range of topics. They participate in health fairs and outreach events throughout the year and hold their annual Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer in the fall. Volunteers are needed in all areas, including education and outreach, office support and events.

Please contact NOCC Pittsburgh chapter at 412-661-1095 if you need support, are looking for information, or would like to volunteer.  They look forward to hearing from you! To receive updates on Chapter events and programs, including the Walk, click here. Make sure to join our discussion on Facebook  and Twitter.

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