By Ginger DeShaney
Susan Devlin has stepped out of her comfort zone in honor of two courageous kids battling cancer.
As she raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), her driving forces are Ollie, 3, and Belle,10 — the LLS Boy & Girl of the Year.
“I do a lot with charities in the community, but I donate to them. I’m not a fundraiser,” said Susan, owner and founder of Nurture Salon at 127 L Street in Southie. “But I have been wanting to do something more. I have been kind of wishing for it; it’s like it came to me.”
Kristen Krikorian, a client who has been coming to the salon since it opened almost 19 years ago, nominated Susan for the New England LLS Woman of the Year campaign. Kristen is a board member for LLS.
During a Zoom meeting in the beginning of the process, Susan was shown a presentation “and I was in tears watching it … I had to do it.”
Susan had never done a fundraiser before. “I don’t like to ask people for money but when you know it’s for children and it’s working and it’s helping … that’s what pushes you to do it.”
While childhood leukemia has the highest cure rate of any blood cancer, it is still the No. 1 disease killer among those under the age of 20, Susan wrote on her donation page, nurtureacure.com. “This needs to change, and I know that as we come together and partner with LLS that we will find a cure.”
Susan pulled a team together, asking her salon staff to join her in heightening awareness, spreading the word, and raising money. The team is 15 members strong.
They are two weeks into the 10-week Woman of the Year campaign, which ends June 11. Susan’s goal is to raise $50,000. The person who raises the most funds of about 10 New England candidates becomes Woman of the Year. “It’s not the title that matters; we just want to reach our goal for these families,” Susan said.
Susan and her team are getting the word out via social media, emails, and an ad in South Boston Online. They’ll also be doing raffles and online auctions to raise money.
Every Wednesday Susan touches base with LLS staffers. She connects with her team as much as she can to keep the vibe and energy up. She spends a couple hours a day doing research. “I just don’t want to put things out there and ask for money, so I do my research.”
Asking people for money is hard, she said, but when you know the money is going directly to families in need — covering hospital visits, hotels, services — the asking gets a little easier.
Potential donors want to hear about the people who are being helped. “It’s really important we share their success stories. People want to know where their money is going,” Susan said.
“To know that we are a part of helping find a cure … that alone is just amazing. It’s so rewarding. Just connecting with people, heightening awareness, and other people sharing their stories because of this … we would never know it otherwise.
As Susan and her team share stories and facts and talk about their fundraising efforts, they are hearing from more and more people who have a connection to leukemia, lymphoma, and other cancers. “Everybody knows somebody who is affected by cancer,” said Susan, who lost her mother to cancer in 2012.
“It’s connecting us all now.”
Her customers have been very receptive. “We have the greatest clients in the whole world,” Susan said. “We’re so lucky. We have the utmost support from the community, the clients. We’ve always been so lucky in that way. And we have the greatest team.
“I’m so grateful for people’s support. South Boston has always been such a great community with support for anyone who ever needs help. They always come through.”
In her salon, Susan has a wall decal of a tree and when people donate, their names are added on flowers that get put up on the wall. “We want the whole thing to be in full bloom at the end of this,” she said.
“We’re just grateful for every dollar. Every dollar helps save lives.”
To make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.nurtureacure.com, call Nurture Salon at 617-269-0638, or stop by the salon at 127 L Street.