Coffee plant gives backPublished 9:07pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Employees at Suffolk’s Massimo Zanetti coffee processing plant took time away from the grind Tuesday to encourage a family that has battled cancer recently.
Part of their Employee Appreciation Week celebrations included giving back to the community. They contacted the Roc Solid Foundation, which helps families with children who have been diagnosed with cancer, and asked about a deserving family they could help.
That’s when they heard about 5-year-old Shaniyah Winfield.
Shaniyah’s troubles started when she was 4, mom Sharell Murray said.
“She was always complaining about her legs hurting,” Murray said. But Shaniyah was involved in ballet and tap lessons, which can be demanding on the legs, and doctors dismissed the complaints as growing pains.
But then one day, Shaniyah woke up with her stomach swollen. A trip to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters helped doctors learn her spleen and lymph nodes were enlarged, and only a few hours went by before the diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was confirmed.
“It just hit me out of nowhere,” said Murray, whose twin sons had struggled with health problems after being born prematurely. “She was such a healthy baby.”
Shaniyah underwent chemotherapy and recently entered the maintenance phase of her treatment. Murray said her daughter has approached her treatments with a good attitude.
“She never really cried, ‘Mommy, why am I doing this?’” Murray said.
Eric Newman, a childhood cancer survivor and founder of the Roc Solid Foundation, said Shaniyah immediately came to mind when Massimo Zanetti asked about a deserving family.
“Last year, they gave us about 15 bikes,” Newman said of the coffee plant’s employees. “This year, they contacted us and wanted to go a step further.”
The employees gave five bicycles and a wooden playset for Shaniyah. Her brothers and two cousins received the other bicycles.
A donation of $3,500 to the Roc Solid Foundation was also presented at Tuesday’s event.
“We decided to partner with the local community,” said Ali Itani, senior director of manufacturing for the coffee plant. “This is one of the things we worked out.”
The Roc Solid Foundation’s mission is to “build hope through play” by providing wooden playsets for children with cancer. Other programs include the “Roc Solid Ready Bag,” which provide families with necessities for unexpected hospital stays, and the “When I Grow Up” program, which gives children hope for the future by connecting them with professionals in their dream jobs.
For more information on the Roc Solid Foundation, visit www.rocsolidfoundation.com.