Philanthropists donate $1.5M to Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

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A $1.5 million donation was given to the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors in honor of its founder Alan Breslau, right. Courtesy Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

A trio of supporters made a large gift to a national burn survivors’ organization in honor of its founder, who died in November.

The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, a national nonprofit based in Grand Rapids dedicated to empowering burn survivors, said last week that it received a $1.5 million gift in honor of its founder, Alan Breslau, who died around Thanksgiving.

The donation from Tony Gonzalez, Howard Tellepsen and the nonprofit AlloSource, based in the Denver suburb of Centennial, Colorado — all board members and supporters of the organization for years — is intended to carry forward Breslau’s legacy and launch several key initiatives in 2021, including expanding the organization’s patient care, peer support and virtual programming.

The gift also comes with an invitation for other supporters to join the trio in raising an additional $1 million in cash and pledges.

“For more than 40 years, Phoenix Society has grown from a single person, Alan Breslau, to an industry-leading organization supporting thousands of burn survivors around the world,” said Amy Acton, CEO of Phoenix Society. “This past month, we were heartbroken by the loss of our founder Alan but will ensure his legacy lives on through our work with burn survivors and their families.”

Added Thomas Cycyota, CEO of AlloSource: “We are proud to support Phoenix Society in their mission to empower anyone affected by a burn injury. By providing lifesaving skin allografts to help burn survivors in the acute phase of their healing, we are part of their overall journey. Partnering with Phoenix Society helps us stay involved in the entire healing process for this incredible patient community.”

Phoenix Society will focus on three areas of accelerated advancement in 2021:

  • Patient and family care kit and app — Phoenix will create a tangible, immediate, direct connection to supportive resources for survivors. This will entail the development, pilot and eventual broad deployment of an app tool, as well as a care package that includes a variety of resources, hopeful stories and branded merchandise and products to meet specific needs.
  • Burn Community Help Center — Phoenix will expand and formalize a comprehensive help source for burn survivors that centralizes requests and provides structured support, real-time response and resources delivered by trained professionals, all day every day.
  • Phoenix Community in Communities — Phoenix will develop, pilot and deploy a new model for peer support that embeds the delivery and ownership of Phoenix Survivors Offering Assistance in Recovery (SOAR) to respective communities. These communities will be available across the U.S. and led by local peer mentors and partners.

“The three of us as board members enabling these leadership gifts in honor of Alan will no doubt inspire others,” said Tellepsen, a burn survivor and chair of Tellepsen Corporation. “The three of us as the past co-chairs of the Never Alone Campaign will continue to set an example of support for this wonderful organization.”

Phoenix Society describes itself as the only organization that looks at the entire survivor journey and provides support across all the dimensions of recovery. The organization understands burn injuries and the phases of recovery and is constantly looking to improve and innovate new sources of support.

“I would like to thank Alan for saving my life in so many ways,” said Gonzalez, a donor and burn survivor. “I wouldn’t have survived or been alive without the doctors and family — but I wouldn’t be living without the Phoenix Society, and I am living with the Phoenix Society. All of this is because of Alan’s vision — because one man saw the need for this. I feel fulfilled because of him.”

Jeff Gallinat, Phoenix Society board chair, added: “Our focus is clear: We are the connector of people with shared experiences, the leading resource for quality information and education, and a trusted authority for all in the burn space.”

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