Written on February 19, 2020
BSM Editor’s Note: Earlier this summer we announced the Breslau Society, which recognizes and celebrates those who have included Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors in their wills or estate plans. The Breslau Society is named for its founder, Alan Breslau, honoring a lifetime dedicated to uniting the voice of the burn community. We sat down with Julie and Ben Spiegel of the Spiegel Burn Foundation, who are supporting this effort.
BSM: Tell us about your family and your philanthropic journey
Julie & Ben: Our relationship with Phoenix Society started in 1996 when our mother, Sally Spiegel, was burned, and her recovery included that first trip to Phoenix World Burn Congress (PWBC). Upon arriving at PWBC, it was so overwhelming, but the community acceptance was so valuable, especially for women in sharing their burns and scars in a nonmedical environment. It was truly a community, and I witnessed my mother finding a new comfort with herself. The experience was so powerful for us that we felt a common purpose to share that experience with others.
BSM: Seeing your mother transform in this way, what did that instill in you?
Julie: I saw my mother getting more comfortable in her own skin and connecting with women in her age group.
Ben: As caregivers we were struggling too. Going to PWBC really turned my mother’s life around, and she wanted to pay it forward. After three or four PWBCs, she began going out in public in short sleeves and felt more comfortable. One time, a little boy came up and asked about her scars. He was so moved by her story that he came up with the acronym, “SALLY – Save a Life Like Yours.” Julie thought that was a great name for a program or support group. We knew we wanted to do more!
BSM: Tell me about the Spiegel Burn Foundation.
Julie: The Spiegel Burn Foundation was created in 2000. We wanted to assist other burn survivors and their families to attend PWBC. As a nationally certified therapeutic massage professional, I volunteered to massage burn survivors attending the PWBC for free. That started the wellness program. My mother, Sally, began speaking to groups about burns and asking for donations. We knew we wanted to give back. Since then, I have attended PWBC for many years, and Ben just returned from PWBC in Anaheim where he volunteered with the UBelong program.
BSM: Why do you feel it’s so important to support Phoenix Society with a planned gift?
Julie: We want to make sure that the Phoenix Society is there for everyone far into the future. Annual support is important, and we want people to continually support Phoenix Society in that way. Planned gifts help with long term sustainability and help fund the Phoenix Society Endowment and ensure its future. No other organization does what the Phoenix society does. Phoenix Society has good outreach and continues to build a large survivor community. PWBC is very impressive, and anyone who attends PWBC comes away much more enriched. Phoenix SOAR (Survivors Offering Support in Recovery®) is an incredible program for burn survivors outside of PWBC. Phoenix Society has so much to offer and must always be there for others.
Ben: I see Phoenix Society reaching more families than ever before, especially those who do not attend the Phoenix World Burn Congress. I also think that Phoenix Society can play a powerful role in impacting legislation through advocacy. The first stop in a burn injury is a hospital, and medical professionals need know about Phoenix Society. While there is a lot of focus on the trauma and medical aspects of a burn injury, healthcare professionals should be directing people to Phoenix Society for support in recovery. Julie is always looking to get the word out. Technology can connect those all around the world and let burn survivors know that they are not alone. They can connect with others on social media. The community is so important, and Phoenix Society makes it happen.
BSM: What advice do you have for others considering joining the Breslau Society by making a planned gift to the Phoenix Society?
Ben: Planned giving offers a sense of purpose and meaning. For example, Julie knows that through her gift, she will leave a legacy of helping other burn survivors. Julie is truly amazed at the number of burn survivors who want to give back. They’re passionate and committed. This is a good way to help, and we encourage them to join us.
Julie: Just do it! If you have anyone in your life that has been burned, you need to strongly consider giving to Phoenix Society, however that fits into your life. It could be a planned or annual gift. Keep paying it forward and that way the world will be a better place.
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