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A dedicated volunteer leaves a legacy to support cancer research

 Claire Liebman

July 14, 2008

During her 13½ years volunteering in Mount Sinai’s Admitting Department, library, on nursing floors and in the blood lab, Mrs. Liebman inspired similar sentiments, and not only from patients.

“She was very special in the way she dealt with all of us — patients, families, staff and volunteers,” recalls Lesli Herman, Volunteer Resource Coordinator, Volunteer Services.

After Mrs. Liebman passed away in 2003, her son, Daniel, was not surprised to discover that his mother had made a bequest to cancer research at the Hospital. “Mount Sinai was always very dear to her heart, and there’s a further personal connection in that my father died of cancer,” he says.

A former public health nurse and librarian in New York City, Claire Liebman moved to Toronto in 1983 when she was 71 years old, and joined Mount Sinai’s Volunteer Services not long after. It was, she said later, a perfect match.

She loved meeting patients and staff from so many different cultures, and she had a gift for calming worried patients and family members. She sang Yiddish songs with Jewish patients, and transcribed Irish folk songs so she could sing along with Irish patients. She also translated for Yiddish-speaking patients.

“My mother treated it like a job,” says Daniel Liebman. “Even in the worst blizzards, when schools were being closed and public transit was minimal, she would still go to work at Mount Sinai.”

“Claire was everywhere and everybody knew her,” recalls Faith White, Volunteer Resource Assistant, Volunteer Services. “By the time she left, at the age of 83, she had contributed 13,450 hours of volunteer service.”

More than a decade after Claire Liebman volunteered here, she is remembered with great affection throughout the hospital that was her “perfect match.” Her gift to cancer research at Mount Sinai deepens the legacy of this remarkable volunteer.