Margaret "Marlo" Thomas is an accomplished actress, producer and social activist. She is best known for her starring role on the TV series 'That Girl' and her award-winning feminist children's franchise, 'Free to Be... You and Me.' Thomas currently serves as National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospitalwhich was founded by her father, Danny Thomas in 1962.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital's mission is to advance cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or their ability to pay.
In December 2013, Facebook announced a new feature called 'Donate,' which lets people contribute directly to nonprofits. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was one of the first to partner with Facebook on this initiative, giving its supporters an easy way to help by making a donation directly through Facebook on its Facebook Page. In addition to making contributing easier, the feature also allows donors to share their giving activity with friends and family. The Donate button amplifies their charity partner’s work because their supporters have an easier way to give back, and share their charitable giving activity on Facebook.
Interview Conducted Via Email By: Giacinta Pace
Q: What is your perspective on the Facebook 'Donate' feature?
Marlo: I think Facebook’s new donate feature is a wonderful idea -- and it’s certainly effective. The whole purpose of social media is to bring together people and ideas -- and when you look on a typical Facebook page, you can see how much energy and passion people devote to causes that matter to them, and how eager they are to share that information with others. So I think it’s pretty terrific that users can now contribute directly to organizations that are important to them in a quick, easy way. There’s a lot of heart on Facebook -- and now we’re going see how that translates into real help for those who need it.
Q: What does this feature specifically mean for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?
Marlo: St. Jude was one of the first nonprofits to partner with Facebook in this special donate feature, and we’re very proud of that. What’s also exciting to us is that, in addition to making a donation on our page, our supporters can now share their good deed with friends and family on their own Facebook pages. This will be vital to us in our outreach efforts; and our hope is that our current supporters will do what Facebook does best -- help us broaden our wonderful circle of friends.
Q: Do you have any additional thoughts on the feature?
Marlo: As much as we love getting donations, I think it’s equally important to let supporters know where their money is going, and how much the hospital depends on them: More than 50 years after its founding, St. Jude continues to lead the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. We are a national resource, as we share our discoveries with the medical community worldwide. That was one of my father’s founding promises when he first opened the hospital. He also made another promise – a big promise – that no family would ever pay St. Jude for anything – not for treatment, travel, housing or food. We are nonprofit and it takes a lot of money to keep this promise, and to do our lifesaving work.
It costs $1.9 million a day to keep the doors of St. Jude open, and 75% of our funds come from the public -- the public is our lifeblood. So this new feature by Facebook is a great way for everyone to join us in our fight against childhood cancer. And I’m particularly happy at how easy they’ve made it. Just go to our Facebook page, click “Donate Now,” choose your donation amount, enter your information -- and you’re done!
Q: What is new with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?
Marlo: The children of St. Jude are facing the toughest battle of their young lives. It was my father’s dream when he founded St. Jude that “no child should die in the dawn of life” -- and to this day, our doctors and scientists have been working around the clock to help achieve this dream. And we’re getting close. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since we first opened; and we’re working to drive those rates to 90 percent in the next decade.
St. Jude is always working on the next innovation to ensure there are treatment options for children with cancer and other deadly diseases. Most exciting is our game-changing Genome Project which is giving us a better understanding of pediatric cancer. It tells us what causes a white blood cell to become a leukemia cell and what causes a healthy brain cell to become a brain tumor. With this knowledge, we have a new starting point for developing new drugs and treating these diseases. Within the last year, we have learned so much. For example, we are able to better understand the most common brain tumor in children, medulloblastoma. The medical community has always believed that medulloblastoma was one type of childhood brain tumor. But St. Jude scientists, through our Genome Project, discovered there are actually 4 different tumors in this type, so 4 different types of treatments are needed. We have already moved this information to the clinic and are treating children with the proper therapies for their specific tumors. This means many more children are being cured of these tumors.
None of this work would be possible without the widespread support of the public. St. Jude is America's Hospital. The children come from communities all across America, and it is the people of America who fund it. Every donation -- every dollar -- helps St. Jude continue to find cures and save the lives of children at absolutely no cost to their families. We will not stop our work until -- true to my father’s dream – every child has the chance to live a long and healthy life.