20th Century Club President Dianne Ross leads a strong membership of women dedicated to providing cancer patients “hope away from home.”
By Jillian McGehee | Photography by Meredith Melody | Hair by Jennifer Jones with Stilo Salon | Makeup by Antonio Figueroa with B. Barnett | Jewelry provided by Jones & Son Diamond & Bridal Fine Jewelry | Backdrop provided by photoboothetc.
For Dianne Ross, cancer is a family affair. As her family celebrates her sister’s successful journey through treatment for breast cancer, they face their father’s lung cancer fight. “This is just not the kind of news you want to hear from your physician,” Dianne says. The silver lining in such a diagnosis is often the love and support offered by family and friends. Dianne has experienced this phenomenon and recognizes its transformative power for a cancer patient.
Dianne’s personal encounters with cancer are one of the main reasons for her involvement with the 20th Century Club, which provides no-cost temporary lodging to cancer patients receiving treatment at Central Arkansas medical facilities. This year, she is serving as club president. “My heart for this organization comes from the fact that my own family has been touched by cancer and I realize the financial and emotional impact this disease can have on a family,” she says. For nearly 25 years, the 20th Century Club Lodge has helped relieve some of the stress for families battling cancer by providing “hope away from home.” Family, friends, caregivers, counselors and physicians comprise cancer patients’ circle of care. When travel is required to receive treatment – leaving the familiar home life – there is a gap in the support system. The Lodge bridges that gap by providing patients receiving treatment in Central Arkansas a place to stay, healthy meals and a community of support.
Under Dianne’s leadership, the 20th Century Club and the Hope Ball, the club’s signature fundraiser, continue to exceed expectations. Elizabeth Clogston, 20th Century Club executive director, says she’s fortunate to work alongside volunteers like Dianne. “My job focuses on the many details of running the Lodge and planning the Hope Ball. Dianne’s ability to focus on the big picture and long-term goals help keep our club pointed in the right direction.”
The theme of this year’s ball, “Giving Hope,” is a beacon of this organization’s mission. “We believe that is what we do for our patients by providing the Lodge as a place for them to stay during their treatments,” Dianne says. “Our Hope Ball co-chairs – Kate Dalton and Lynette Bowersock – always have something up their sleeves. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but I can’t wait to find out.” A highlight of the evening is the formal presentation of the Angels of Hope. Comprised of high school girls, the Angels of Hope volunteer with the 20th Century Club supporting its mission and cultivating a spirit of civic leadership that last a lifetime.
Hope Ball proceeds provide the Lodge its source of annual operating costs. “We have been blessed to cover our annual budget and more,” Dianne notes. Her top priority as president is making decisions that will benefit the organization’s mission for years to come, she says. “We have policies and procedures in place for how the organization should run and how the Lodge should be operated. However, we are always learning to adjust those when needed.” This year, a big accomplishment was adding a generator to the facility so the Lodge won’t compromise patient care due to loss of electrical power or an emergency. The club allocated a budget in a reserve account for three years to pay for it, Dianne adds.
In her role, oversight of the finances and logistics of the ball is vital to the organization’s continued success. Dianne acknowledges the most rewarding part about being a member is the interaction with Lodge guests. 20th Century Club members are onsite to help provide the home-comfort amenities of the Lodge for its temporary residents. The one-on-one time with patients and caregivers is what makes it all worthwhile for Dianne. “I love that our members serve dinners and play bingo with them. Personally, that is one of my favorite things to do.”
The 20th Century Club isn’t affiliated with a specific hospital or healthcare organization. Assistance is available to all cancer patients regardless of where treatment is received. As of last month, the 20th Century Club Lodge welcomed guests from 25 states and 356 cities. Dianne credits this diversity to Little Rock’s medical centers. “I believe Little Rock has one of the best medical communities in the U.S. and that is why our patients come from so many places.” The Southern hospitality at the Lodge probably has something to do with its popularity as well. And that’s something Dianne hopes the organization will always honor. “We’ve always been about keeping our focus on the patients and have provided such a warm, friendly atmosphere for them – and I absolutely want that to continue.”
DETAILS ON DIANNE:
Hope comes from… “the Lord. Without him, there is no hope.”
Inspired by… “my husband, Mark. Over our 35-year marriage, he has continued to encourage and love me unconditionally.”
Philosophy to live by… “It is never wrong to do the right thing.”
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