Giving That Lasts Beyond a Lifetime

For 23 years, electrical engineer Bipin B. Desai volunteered at Memorial Sloan Kettering. In 1990, Mr. Desai underwent surgery at MSK for the treatment of lung cancer. Follow-up visits showed no new signs of malignancy and, thankfully, he was declared cancer-free. 

MSK art expressions program
Art Expressions participant 2015

But Mr. Desai was not finished — not at all. He knew he had to give back. And so he became an active, enthusiastic, and devoted MSK volunteer.
 
His volunteer work over more than two decades took him all around the institution. Beginning first in Adult Recreation, Mr. Desai later assumed responsibilities in Food and Nutrition Services, the Medical Library, and assisting in the laboratory of hematologist/oncologist Stephen Nimer (formerly of MSK).
 
His last assignment, before ill health forced him to stop his volunteer activities, was in the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center. Mr. Desai passed away in March 2014.
 

A Gift in His Memory

According to his widow, Claire, her husband was always interested in and attracted to the work of the Arts Expressions program, which provides free workshops in the visual arts for MSK outpatients and their caregivers.
 
Launched in 2011, Art Expressions offers classes in drawing, acrylic and watercolor painting, paper collage, jewelry making, and knitting in a large, airy lounge in the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion at 160 East 53rd Street. Each four-to-six-week session is taught by a volunteer artist and accommodates approximately 12 participants.
 
“A cancer diagnosis often brings with it many emotions, including fear and uncertainty,” observes Mrs. Desai. “Bipin understood that creating art can be a profound therapeutic experience — reducing stress, providing an outlet for self-expression, and offering a welcome distraction.”
 
With this in mind, Mrs. Desai — a longtime employee of the Exxon Corporation — decided to make a donation of Exxon stock to MSK to establish the Bipin B. Desai Fund for Volunteers. The fund mainly supports Art Expressions, as well as other volunteer initiatives.
 
“Our Art Expressions program provides an invaluable service for outpatients by tapping into the artistic talents of our volunteers,” says Director of Volunteer Resources Jane Hedal-Siegel. “This unique creative experience would not be possible without the generous contributions of special donors like Mrs. Desai. Her commitment to support and sustain our mission in her husband’s memory is profoundly appreciated. Mr. Desai is missed by everyone at MSK who knew him and worked with him and he’ll always be remembered — both as the remarkable human being he was and through this generous gift that will help ensure the continuation of the Art Expressions program.”