Douglas Elliman agent Marlene de Cespedes has been donating to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for more than twenty years for their commitment to end childhood cancer. But, five years ago, when a family friend’s eight-year-old daughter became a patient at St. Jude, Marlene felt she needed to do more. That’s when she founded Team Victoria for St. Jude in honor of patient Victoria Rubio. Elliman Insider sat down with Marlene to find out more about why St. Jude is close to her heart and what she likes most about giving back.
Elliman Insider: Why did you choose this organization?
Marlene de Cespedes: My inspiration are all children at St. Jude and around the world who are fighting for their lives and going through treatment for cancer and other diseases. Five years ago, when a family friend’s daughter, Victoria Rubio (at age 8) was diagnosed with a tumor and became a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I felt it was my obligation to do something for her and I started Team Victoria. Inviting all my Douglas Elliman colleagues, family and friends, we participated in our first St. Jude Walk/Run To End Childhood Cancer in Miami while Victoria was receiving treatment at St. Jude and within ten days raised over $17,000. To date, Team Victoria has raised over $200,000. In 2019, with the help of Douglas Elliman, Team Victoria expanded to participate in walks in Miami, Palm Beach, Tampa and Boston. In 2020, I hope to expand our reach to our Douglas Elliman markets in New York and Los Angeles.
EI: How have you benefited from giving back?
MC: Not only does being involved with St. Jude warm my heart, I am able to participate with my children as a family in all St. Jude events. I believe it is our responsibility to give back to others and I’m happy to have instilled that in my children. I have the opportunity as well to meet and work with the most amazing people from across the country.
EI: How do you see your relationship with the organization growing?
MC: My commitment and relationship with St. Jude grows every year. In February 2020, I attended the Volunteer Leadership Conference at St. Jude in Memphis. I have been asked to take a lead role during the conference and host a seminar for Latin volunteers from across the country.
EI: Is there anything you’ve learned in this relationship that you apply to real estate?
MC: I have definitely learned to overcome several fears, one being public speaking. The patients and families at St. Jude have taught me to be courageous in all that I do and to live my life to the fullest.
—by Jacqueline Kuron