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Making a Difference in Society

by Renee Connolly, Vice President of U.S. Communications, EMD Serono, Inc.

Community investment has always been important to me, and as Vice President of U.S. Communications at EMD Serono, I have worked hard to integrate community service into our corporate culture. In fact, in recent years, Making a Difference in Society has become one of our four core purposes. As a leading biopharmaceutical company, EMD Serono is committed to oncology research and improving patients’ lives. We continually strive to make a difference in society and have been active in raising awareness for cancer through employee participation at walks, runs and other fundraising events throughout the year.

A productive and fulfilling way companies like ours give back to the community is by collaborating with a local nonprofit organization that shares a common goal. Through networking at the 2010 MA Conference for Women, EMD Serono and the Friends of Mel Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Hingham, developed a connection that led to a mutually beneficial relationship.

The Friends of Mel Foundation was created in honor of Mel Simmons, a loving mother, flight attendant and devoted humanitarian who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2005. During chemotherapy, a fellow flight attendant brought Mel a handful of colorful bracelets from abroad, which Mel then gave to staff and other patients in the hospital. Interest in the bracelets soon spread, and the concept behind “Mel’s Bracelets” was born – make a donation and receive a bracelet as a token of appreciation. Following Mel’s passing, the Friends of Mel Foundation promotes the bracelets to raise funds for cancer research, education and patient support.

After hearing my opening remarks at the keynote session of last year’s MA Conference for Women, Friends of Mel founder, Pauline Alighieri, approached me at the EMD Serono booth. She was looking to connect with EMD Serono, knowing our company is based on the South Shore, near her headquarters in Hingham. Following the conference, Pauline and I continued discussions about how our companies could work together to benefit those living with cancer. In March of 2011, our communications team began leveraging their skills on a pro-bono basis to help raise visibility for this valuable nonprofit organization

This past June, the team helped promote the Friends of Mel Foundation’s Art of Living – Life Beyond Cancer Conference, where more than 200 cancer survivors and their caregivers spent time learning how to address the many issues they confront after cancer treatment.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with Friends of Mel and promoting their important mission throughout the year. Through this effort, we’re reminded how important it is for companies and their employees to look beyond what we do every day to find ways to help others in the community.