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Discovery Shop marks 25 years of fighting cancer

Volunteers from over the years are honored at June 10 luncheon
by: Barbara Sherman RECALLING OLD MEMORIES AND MAKING NEW ONES — Celebrating at the Discovery Shop's 25th birthday party are Trudie Young (left), who has volunteered for 16 ½ years, and Helen Mittendorf, who at the 18-year mark is the shop's longest-serving volunteer.

It doesn't look a day over 10 years old, but the Tigard Discovery Shop just turned 25!

Board members plus about 70 past and present volunteers gathered for lunch and birthday cake at the King City Clubhouse on June 10, exchanging stories and learning about the history of the nationwide chain dedicated to raising money for American Cancer Society research.

Board President Karen Smith kicked off the program, joking that those no longer working in the shop are "former, not old, volunteers."

Nancy Burnett, the board member in charge of publicity, told the group, "What holds us all together is that we have the same passion - to find a cure for cancer."

The roots of the American Cancer Society go back to New York in 1913, when the American Society for the Control of Cancer was formed.

The organization grew rapidly over the decades, and in 1943 Mary Lasker, the wife of Albert Lasker, who was the president of the renowned advertising firm of Lord and Thomas, learned that her housekeeper had been diagnosed with cancer. Shocked when the doctors told her nothing could be done, Mrs. Lasker was appalled that there was practically no research conducted on the disease, according to the website.

When she called the American Society on Cancer Control, Mrs. Lasker learned that the society had no money for research. She then asked her husband to help the society make public the need for cancer research funds, and her husband delegated one of his younger associates to create a publicity and fund-raising campaign.

The associate immediately suggested changing the name of the organization to the American Cancer Society and embarked upon a comprehensive advertising strategy to raise funds for cancer research.

Flash forward several decades, and the concept of opening Discovery Shops nationwide was born, which led to increased donations to the ACS.

According to Burnett, 25 years ago the Tigard Discovery Shop opened in a wood building in a strip mall where Walgreens is now located at Pacific Highway and Gaarde Street.

Years later it moved to its current location at Pacific Highway and Durham Road, where 80 volunteers currently work.

"The Tigard Discovery Shop has donated $594,066 to the American Cancer Society since it opened," Burnett said. "Let us enjoy our 25th birthday. Congratulations to all of you - you made it happen."

When Smith asked if any of the volunteers wanted to share a story, a woman in the room said, "It would take all day."

The names of the longest-serving volunteers were read along with their years of service - Helen Mittendorf - 18 years, Frieda Davis - 17 1/2 , June Pimentel - 17-plus, Trudie Young - 16 ½, and Kay Hoferer and Shirley Russell - 13.

"We always need volunteers," said Smith, adding that people should check out a table in the corner brimming with scrapbooks, newsletters, photos and other memorabilia from the Tigard shop's first 25 years.

One of the ways Discovery Shop workers get more people acquainted with the store is to put on fashion shows featuring clothing from the store modeled by volunteers.

"We have already done six this year, and four more are scheduled," Smith said.

A special guest of honor at the event was Bill LaVergne, the Tacoma-based division director for Discovery Shops in the West.

"What a lovely group of people," said LaVergne, who told the group that the 10 shops in his district have raised an impressive total of $14.55 million for cancer research over the years.

Having stopped at the Vancouver shop the day before, LaVergne told the story of a 102-year-old volunteer who came to the shop two days a week to do laundry for many years until her recent passing.

"We have quite a few centenarians," he said. "Once we plug people into this organization, it's for life. It becomes a family. We have the best organization for customer service - our volunteers treat customers like they are welcoming them into their own home.

"I hear all the time how nice the ladies are in the shops. Our customers come in because it's a social event, and our service you don't get anywhere else."

He congratulated the Tigard volunteers for their 25th anniversary milestone, which makes the shop one of the oldest in the Western division.

Following the lunch, Mittendorf - the longest-serving volunteer - explained how she got started: "I drove by the Discovery Shop when it was located where Walgreens is now and went in to see what they had.

"I was looking for a volunteer activity to do and started volunteering there one day a week, and here it is 18 years later."

The Discovery Shop is located at 11545 S.W. Durham Road, suite B-3, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For more information, call 503-684-9060.