After Julia Tominaga’s brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away just two-and-a-half weeks later, she was in utter disbelief. She was mad that the disease didn’t give her brother a fighting chance due to his late diagnosis, and it fueled her passion to do something. She found the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website and information about PurpleStride. She immediately attended a Los Angeles Affiliate meeting where she was welcomed by a team of volunteers.
“I attended PurpleStride and pretty much cried the ENTIRE route,” she said. “Why? Because prior to this event, I felt all alone….me, my loss and this horrible disease. But then I realized something -- there were others at the event who had the same experience…and suddenly I didn’t feel as alone. It was very emotional to feel so comforted.”
After attending a couple of affiliate meetings, she quickly got asked to serve as the Volunteer Co-Chair to help make sure that the affiliate had volunteers ready to help at its next event. She loved volunteering for the organization so much that she became interested in employment opportunities. She kept checking the website for job listings and finally found one that was a good fit.
“I thought, ‘How awesome would it be to work for a cause that I am directly connected to?’” Julia said.
She came onboard in July 2011 as a Community Engagement Resource Specialist in the National Office, working in the accounting department as a liaison for Community Engagement. In June 2012, she transferred to the Donor Relations department and now serves as a Customer Service Representative.
Having been a volunteer, Julia knows well all of the hard work that volunteers dedicate to the organization. That knowledge shapes how she interacts with volunteers today.
“I completely get it…I understand why people dedicate so much of their time to the cause. I love listening to other volunteers’ stories. Some think that after their loved one has passed away from this disease there is no reason to stay involved with the organization, but I think it’s important for people to understand that we can’t change the course of pancreatic cancer without everyone’s unique energy, fire and dedication.”