As a child in Dallas, Jennifer Hillman remembers volunteering side-by-side with her parents and giving back to the community from a very early age.
Some of her fondest memories include helping her mother at the National Council of Jewish Women thrift shop where she volunteered, and accompanying her father to tutor children in disadvantaged communities.
“My parents believed it was a responsibility to give back,” Jennifer says. “They gave their time, their talent, and what treasure they were able to give.”
Their life lessons made a mark in many ways. For example, when Jennifer had her bat mitzvah she asked friends and family to donate to charity in lieu of gifts, understanding that their gifts could make a greater impact on the community. Jennifer and her husband, Tom, now pass on their legacy of giving to their children, and to future family generations.
“I grew up knowing it was important to give back,” Jennifer says. “It doesn’t matter whether your gift is big or small. It’s about the action of giving. It stays with you. To me, the best form of philanthropy is when it grows with you. As you have more, you can give more.”
Today, she is committed to improving the community through volunteering, working passionately on programs important to their family, and giving to causes throughout the St. Louis area.
Through the years, many of Jennifer’s family and friends have lost their lives to cancer, and today she knows many courageous survivors. They all inspire her to contribute to The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Cancer Frontier Fund to advance innovative cancer research at Siteman Cancer Center so more people will win their battle with the disease.
“Tom and I are risk-takers,” Jennifer says. “We’re out-of-the-box thinkers, and we’re big believers that innovative ideas are the ones that will produce results in the future—including in the field of cancer research. If we don’t stay ahead of it, we’ll never catch up to it. And more people will lose their lives.”
She continues: “The survivors in my life are an inspiration. There are now more survivors than ever thanks to innovative research. With continued advances, we can keep them alive and with their families longer.”