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St. Jude Transformed Lives of Working Solutions Agents

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Five for 25
This article is part of an ongoing series spotlighting the nonprofits supported by Working Solutions “Five for 25” charitable-giving program. The program, which helps commemorate Working Solutions’ 25th anniversary, provided $5,000 charitable donations to five programs selected by agents.

Seven decades ago, the now legendary performer Danny Thomas found that work wasn’t easy to come by. In response, he prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes and vowed: “Show me the way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”

And a funny thing happened. Danny began to find work, beginning with the classic comedy “Make Room for Daddy,” which eventually became the Danny Thomas Show.

Suddenly, one of the biggest stars in entertainment, Danny fulfilled his end of the bargain when he built St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 1962.


Treating Children for Free

The hospital, which opened in front of a crowd of 9,000 in Memphis, Tennessee, has since treated thousands of children free-of-charge. It’s been instrumental in tackling cancer and other previously incurable diseases. In fact, St. Jude’s research has virtually eliminated deaths from leukemia in children.

The Thomas family has remained deeply involved with the hospital following Danny Thomas’ death in 1991. His son, Tony, serves on the institution’s board of directors, and his daughter, actress Marlo Thomas, serves as National Outreach Director.

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is now one of the most revered nonprofits in the world. And it is a favorite of many Working Solutions agents. In fact, it garnered the most recommendations of any nonprofit to receive one of Working Solutions’ “Five for 25” charitable donations.

"I had a granddaughter who was treated there as a baby. Now, she's eight years old... happy and healthy." – Kelly Gradkowski, former Working Solutions Agent


“No Higher Calling”

via St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

“When I became a mother and a grandmother, the need for a St. Jude’s really resonated with me,” said Jan DeLaval-Taylor, one of 10 agents who nominated the hospital. “There is no higher calling than helping children. And that’s what St. Jude’s is all about.”

Kelly Gradkowski, who was a Working Solutions agent at the time of the nomination, had an even more direct relationship. “I had a granddaughter who was treated for leukemia there as a baby. She is now eight years old and happy and healthy. I am incredibly grateful, and I continue to contribute to St. Jude every month.”

Working Solutions president and chief executive Kim Houlne said: “I was so touched to learn the role St. Jude’s has played in our agents lives and in the lives of so many others. “It’s a place where medical breakthroughs happen every day, and I am so proud Working Solutions can support such an incredible, life-changing cause.”


By the Numbers:

  • Founder and entertainer Danny Thomas opened the doors in 1962 with the dream that “no child should die in the dawn of life.”
  • Treatments at St. Jude are provided free of charge.
  • The hospital’s leukemia studies pioneered the way the world treats childhood leukemia. St. Jude patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia have a 94% survival rate, the best worldwide outcomes for that disease.
  • Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80%.
  • Jude has helped swell the ranks of childhood cancer survivors to more than 425,000 nationwide.


Nominating Agents:

  • Rebecca McGrane
  • Amreen Fatima
  • Gerald Goudchaux
  • Kelly Gradowski
  • Janice Mallia
  • Ellen Meinhart
  • Elizabeth Kral
  • Ann Marielle Grace Cruz
  • Pamela Mann
  • Jan DeLaval-Taylor

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