An Iowan now heads the nation’s biggest voluntary health organization. Gary Streit, of Cedar Rapids, is the new chairman for the national board of directors of the American Cancer Society. Speaking from the group’s meeting in Atlanta, Streit says the chairmanship is a huge honor and responsibility which will enable him to shine a brighter spotlight on what he says makes Iowans special. Streit says “We have grown up being good neighbors and we make it just a natural part of our daily life to help other people and that’s bottom-line what the organization is really about. This gives us a chance to help people appreciate that we’re plain-spoken, hard-working people and that’s really something that’s so unique to Iowans, it’s sometimes taken for granted.” As Chairman, Streit will lead the 42-member national board in the planning and coordination of public and professional education, providing technical assistance and materials and administering programs of research, medical grants and clinical fellowships. He says it’ll take a lot of travel, conference calling and e-mailing. Streit has been an attorney in Cedar Rapids 28 years and a Cancer Society volunteer 24 years. While he says he’s not had anyone in his immediate family hit by cancer, he’s surrounded by staff and volunteers who have a great passion and talent about the A-C-S mission based on their own experiences so he jokes, “I’ve never had the courage to quit.” Charitable giving has been dropping in recent years. Streit acknowledges some people are jaded when they hear how much donated money goes toward administrative costs. He says he’s confident the American Cancer Society spends its money very wisely.Streit, with degrees from I-S-U and Iowa, has been serving as president of the Society’s Cancer Action Network, a grassroots group that advocates for cancer-related legislation. He’s now chair of the group which has two-point-two million volunteers nationwide with local offices in 34-hundred communities. For more information, call 800-ACS-2345 or visit “www.cancer.org”.
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