For over two decades, Cindy Alvarez has been an unwavering advocate of Gilda’s Club Madison. From visiting nine different Gilda’s Club locations throughout the country in the early 2000s to fundraising and securing major donations, Cindy and her husband Barry have been instrumental in helping Gilda’s Club Madison ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

Throughout her travels to different Gilda’s Clubs, Cindy learned invaluable best practices, including the importance of maintaining two years of operating expenses. This strategy proved vital when the 2008 recession hit shortly after Gilda’s Club Madison opened its doors. “I didn’t want Madison to carry a financial burden, so we came up with innovative ways to raise money, and it worked,” she shares. 

Barry and Cindy at a Gilda’s Club event in our early days

Rallying Community Support Through Creative Outreach

Cindy beams with gratitude when she recalls how the Madison community showed up in the early days of the clubhouse opening. She and the other early founders were always looking for new and creative ways to garner support from local businesses. One of her favorite stories involves reaching out to every furniture store in town. “We gave them a six-month lead time and said, whatever you don’t sell and whatever you want to give away, we’ll take. All but one donated, and that’s how we furnished the clubhouse.”

An Unexpected “Thank You”

One of Cindy’s most cherished memories was the time she was approached by a Gilda’s Club member on an airplane. “She touched me on the shoulder and said, ‘Thank you.’ At that moment, I realized that we were helping people.” 

Barry and Cindy at Gilda’s Big Bash

Looking Ahead

These days, Cindy remains actively involved with Gilda’s Club Madison behind the scenes. She is Emeritus to the board, advocates for donations in the community, connects with potential sponsors, and provides financial support however she can. She wants to ensure Gilda’s Club is integral to the Madison community. To get there, Cindy recognizes the need for engaged donors and community partners. She hopes sharing her story inspires others to gift their time, talents, and resources to further the goals of Gilda’s Club. Because the mission touches them both personally, Cindy and Barry are excited to see where leadership takes the organization in decades to come.

Click here to learn more about all our early founders and what they made possible.

Written by Maggie Thorison based on her interview with Cindy Alvarez.

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