Donor Impact Report - Spring 2015

A Special Report, Just for You

Thank you for being an important part of the Phoenix Society! This report is for our partners and donors to share how your support goes to work for the burn community.

Jenny Cash, portraitTreating the Injury, Healing the Whole Person

Your support shapes the care survivors receive.   

Doctors, nurses, and support staff of burn centers are some of the closest partners of the Phoenix Society. Not only are they some of the first people to care for an individual’s burn injury, but how they approach burn care can set in motion the rest of a survivor’s journey to healing. 

As we often say in the burn community: survival is not enough. Jennifer Cash, RN, has witnessed this firsthand as Burn Program Manager at the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center. 

“The hardest work begins when burn survivors leave us,” she says. “Actual survival is much more complex than being pushed out of the burn ICU in a wheelchair with flowers and balloons in tow. It is in the days, weeks and years that follow that the battle to regain life is truly waged.”

Jennifer credits the Phoenix Society’s programs and supportive community with meeting her patients at every step in that lifelong journey. “As burn professionals, we do our best to promote healing: physically, emotionally and socially. There are many ways to contribute to the healing process – but none more effective, in my opinion, than with people. The Phoenix Society has created the formula for people healing people.” 

“It comforts me to know that my patients have access to these resources and people who truly care as much as I do.” — Jennifer Cash, RN, Burn Program Manager at the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center

Your support is shaping the future of this work. Thanks to you, people affected by a burn injury can go beyond surviving. They have more opportunities to heal mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – as well as physically. Every day, your gifts are used to provide peer support, education, and events that help survivors and their loved ones get back to living. Thank You!

Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit - Life!

A poem by Emily Dickinson, shared with participants at the 2014 Phoenix World Burn Congress in the welcome speech from Dr. Victor Joe, Director of the UC Irvine Regional Burn Center

A Special Look at Young SurvivorsToni and Braegen Newton, portrait

A mother shares how her daughter is rediscovering confidence after a burn injury, thanks to donors like you.

When Braegan Newton was four years old, a cellar fire at their rural Oklahoma home changed her life forever. She and her brother had been in the cellar. Fortunately, they both survived, but as the family discovered, survival is only the beginning.

The biggest challenge was “not knowing what to expect,” says Toni, Braegan’s mom. “I called work right after the accident and said it would be a couple of days, not initially realizing it’s so much more than that. I didn’t realize that it’s a lifelong journey.”

In the five years since the fire, Toni has watched her daughter struggle to grow up with a burn injury. At a time when confidence can already be fragile, even the usual joys like playing sports have become stressful. “She was going to play basketball but didn’t want to, because team members could see her burns through the jersey,” Toni explains. “When something happens at school, it affects the whole family. Her brothers have been in fights to defend her because of things other kids have said.”

Toni says that living in a rural community adds to the isolation that Braegan sometimes feels. Recognizing how the burn injury was taking a toll on her daughter’s confidence, Toni began seeking more resources and other survivors. Her search led her to the Phoenix Society.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Toni and Braegan have access to an array of programs and events designed for youth and their families. Last October, Braegan was one of 52 young burn survivors participating in Phoenix UBelong, a three-day experience that is part of Phoenix World Burn Congress. A scholarship made it possible for her to attend.

Toni feels the experience was transformational for her daughter as well as herself. “I was taken aback from the first day. I had felt that it was Braegan’s injury and didn’t want to acknowledge how much it affected me too. I went to the parents group and realized I wasn’t alone,” she shares. She realized that she “had not exhaled since Braegan’s injury.” 

For Braegan, participating in UBelong “gave her a door to open up and relate and meet other kids going through the same thing... I bought her a dress with a shrug for the [Phoenix WBC] banquet, but she didn’t wear it and instead showed off her scars and danced all night. It gave her empowerment. It gave her a voice and a choice. She can share or not share.” 

Thanks to your support, thousands of families like Toni’s have programs, resources, and peer support to guide their healing… or what Toni calls “a community where we fit and belong. Now we rejoice in the living instead of carrying around all of the things the burn took away from us.” 

Visit to learn more. 

Voices from Phoenix UBelong 

52 kids • 28 skilled program leaders •3 days of healing • the freedom to “Be Who You Are!”


“For the first time since my accident, I went to the beach and a public pool without caring about my scars and what people might say about them.”

“I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and wearing my scars as a part of my outfit. I’ve never felt so happy and confident in my life!”

“Meeting other kids that are burn survivors and hearing their stories lets me know that I’m not alone.”

“Because of Phoenix Society, I learned to go swimming and feel good about myself. I know what to say if someone asks what happened to me. I met a lot of new friends. I belong!”

See more highlights from the Phoenix World Burn Congress in a 3-minute video at

Donor Spotlight: Meredith Balgley Meredith Balgley, portrait

One of the first donors in our monthly giving program shares why regular gifts make a special difference.

Meredith Balgley found the Phoenix Society like so many do:  through a personal experience with a burn injury.  When she survived a burn in the mid-1960s, she says she didn’t have support in the hospital or after in her recovery. "I felt very isolated. Now that I know how important it is, I want to help.”

Meredith is helping in many ways, including becoming one of the first to join our new monthly giving program. “I know how important steady support is to the Phoenix Society,” she says. “My gift has a greater impact when the organization can rely on it throughout the year. It lets the Phoenix Society focus on what matters most: helping burn survivors through their journeys.”

Meredith hopes the Phoenix Society continues to reach more people. “A burn injury is one of those things you think you’ll never go through. When it happens to you, you quickly realize how important support is. I give to the Phoenix Society because I want other burn survivors to have support when they will need it most.”

We are so grateful to Meredith and hundreds of other supporters like her who make this work possible! To learn more about our monthly giving program, visit

Planned Giving: A Powerful Gift to Consider at Any Age

Naming the Phoenix Society in your will, trust, retirement plan, or other estate plans is a powerful way to ensure that the care and compassion of the burn community grows for generations to come. Planned giving can be a creative way to share assets like property and life insurance with the burn community. 

“It’s never too early to begin thinking about planned giving,” says Holly Karasinski, Senior Financial Services Representative, Princor Registered Representative. 

She points to life insurance as a way to protect your family’s future while leaving a legacy. “Typically premiums increase with age, so a good time to consider planned giving is actually early on. One simple solution is more along the lines of beneficiary planning – naming a charity as a partial beneficiary of a new or existing policy.”

Holly shares that leaving just 10% of a life insurance policy to the Phoenix Society can result in a meaningful gift. On a $1 million policy, this would create a $100,000 gift to the burn community, with $900,000 remaining for the family. But the impact, she says, “is immeasurable. Lives are touched, families are healed, children return to school and thrive. Your gift of money transforms into a gift of healing, knowledge, and security.”   

To learn more about planned giving at the Phoenix Society, please visit or call Megan Geerling at 800-888-2876.

The Phoenix Society is a community of burn survivors, their loved ones, health professionals, and firefighters. Our promise is simple but powerful: you are not alone. You can get back to living. We can help, with caring people to share the journey and resources to make it easier.

Download a copy of this Impact Report.