Cheryl Ward on Friends of Faith and an evening of Weather and Wine for cancer awareness

Cheryl Ward

Cheryl Ward

Faith Fancher was an award winning journalist, an exceptionally beautiful and accomplished woman, and an innovator who took her private battle with cancer public in order to raise awareness about breast cancer, the disease that did claim her life.

Faith documented every aspect of her surgery and treatment, a powerful collection of moments that aired on KTVU, channel 2 as “Faith’s Story”. Although Faith died in 2003, she is not gone from our midst as she has left, in her wake, a team of devoted illustrious friends who are carrying on what she began- approaching the challenge of diagnosis and treatment with enough strength and knowledge to let fear recede into the background so attention can be focused on treatment.

To hear Cheryl Ward, one of Faith’s friends talk about Faith, the realities of facing a breast cancer diagnosis and her own mother-in-law who was diagnosed at the age of 89 (and still going strong at 98 by the way) is a lesson in making the world a better place. Cheryl is a dedicated letter writer, and the love letter she plans to write will surely be a legacy to all who come after her.

Friends of Faith are at work all year long to help low-income women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and need a variety of services, the kind that are meant to soften the thud of the diagnosis. In answer to, “What do I do now?” “ How do I pay my rent when I have to take time off for surgery,” and “What is the doctor talking about?” it is the Friends of Faith who have some answers and compassionate practical solutions. Friday October 3rd , from 5 – 9  is Weather and Wine, an evening with a variety of options involving an inclusive tour of ABC channel 7, meeting anchors and learning about technical aspects. All this with elegant food prepared by Chef Ivan Giansante and presented by Il Fornaio restaurant as well as wines from the cellar of Spencer Christian.

For other opportunities to celebrate the joys of life in Faith Fancher’s memory, take a look at and choose for yourself.

Reverend Shawn coming out and overcoming his mother’s fury

Reverend Shawn coming out and overcoming his mother's furyAs soon as you hear the, “Hi, everybody, I’m Reverend Shawn,” you know you are in for a good, candid and emotionally educational time. His mother was not happy finding out he was gay back in the 70s. Understatement. She was furious.

He had girlfriends and knew he was supposed to get married and have children.  Shawn’s truth is that prior to his first and inappropriate relationship with a man, he had no inkling. He was 14 and suddenly knew who he was and where to go for love. Gay bars. Did his mother know? No, she was not great at supervision, but he invited her to come with him as a way to tell his mother. He succeeded informing and infuriating her in one fell swoop. His family’s journey from abysmal ignorance to their eventual love and friendship is quite a story. Short version is that eventually she saw he was happy.

Reverend Shawn’s forgiveness process is astoundingly strong and kind. The very tone of his voice, the comforting flow of his self-talk and his stand-up comic way of presenting the torment of his early life is a lesson in how to live life beautifully.. Serious pain and serious humor. You wonder how you can laugh at a time like this. You can. Because he can. With compassion and brilliance. It is no wonder he has such a following.

Reverend Shawn Moninger leading through candor acceptance insight and the ability to laugh

Unity minister Reverend Shawn Moninger of Norwalk Connecticut

Unity minister Reverend Shawn Moninger of Norwalk Connecticut

Shawn Moninger was, years ago, an award winning lighting director for the NYC nightclub Don’t Tell Mama. Yes, he used to light people from without. Until he decided he had a far greater power to light people from within, and following that call he became an ordained minister for Unity Center for Practical Spirituality. He was nominated for an MAC award as a stand-up comedian.

But underlying all that Shawn has done with such great success is the feeling he had even as a child that something loved him, something very big loved him despite the abusive childhood he suffered at the hands of people who knew no better. There does not seem to be an area of personal struggle with which Shawn is uncomfortable, and to hear him talk about love, forgiveness and his own journey from self-doubt to spiritual leadership is, well, yes, to be strengthened by Reverend Shawn’s own unusual light.

And as laughter is often the most direct route to serious, Reverend Shawn is a brilliant guide on the difficult road to healing and recognition of one’s own innate goodness. He is smart, patient, easy to follow and easy to trust. The most defeated soul seems safe in Shawn Moninger’s spiritual hands.

More on Broadway conductor David Friedman’s personal road from living fearfully to living sensationally


David Friedman, composer, conductor, speaker and author of The Thought Exchange

David Friedman, composer, conductor, speaker and author of The Thought Exchange

The Thought Exchange is so original and makes such sense when you hear what it is that you might wonder why you did not think of it on your own. Well, worry not that it never occurred to you because Broadway composer and conductor David Friedman has not only thought of it but has made it a large part of his own work and is eager to share it. To listen to him talk about how to exchange one thought for another is a revelation that will release you from the burden that you have to cheer up, or get over it, or find closure. You can feel as scared as ever and be a great success just the same, daunted not by pounding heart, shifting sands under your feet, and the conviction that you are about to die of fear. The very way David talks with such candor, laughter and generosity about his own thought exchanges is an easily understandable lesson in self-acceptance. His love letter? Like so much in David’s hands, it is a creative and healing example you might want to follow.

Bay Area artist Rich Sigberman now playing at…


Rich Sigberman artist and musician

Rich Sigberman artist and musician

Rich Sigberman is an artist of exceptional talent, not only for his imagination, style and precision of his illustration but for the variety of his genres that include representations of musicians as well as for his pop art, illustration and compelling abstract paintings. After years as a successful artist and illustrator he is adding a new layer of rhythm and form; he is now performing as a musician himself. To her him talk about his decision to sing professionally is a lesson in trusting what you know to be your talents, letting personal courage lead the way and not limiting yourself.

Todd Lieman’s day well lived and the snowballing world of gratitude

Todd Leiman and his son Kolby

Todd Lieman and his son Kolby

Todd Lieman is an imaginative, conscious, creative man who understands what makes a day well lived and the benefits of specific gratitude expressed. He began by encouraging his young son Kolby to express each night three things for which he is grateful. And, because from the mouths of babes come some of our best insights, Todd took the challenge when Kolby asked him to “do some gratefuls”, which is what they called this practice.

Todd tweeted his gratitude and felt immediately better, and out of that grew a world of snowballing thankfulness. To listen to Todd talk about what is important in life, his Aha project and his own life lived in gratitude and honesty lets us know that a day does not have to be perfect to be well-lived. A day in which we can be present, do our best in the face of challenges, express gratitude and sometimes bring the darkness into the light without fear of negative reaction is a day well lived.

Conversation with Myrna Aronoff on the importance of thank you notes

Myrna AronoffThe San Francisco Chronicle recently published Sam Whiting’s story of  Mica Jarmel-Schneider who decided, as his bar mitzvah project, to collect baseball gear to send to kids in Cuba. The start of this adventure was, of course, his generosity. The plot thickened with an astonishing adventure all because Mica never got a thank you note.

This compelling story was the impetus of a conversation with San Francisco’s Myrna Aronoff on the topic of thank you notes, those seemingly small gestures that are definitely love letters and important for so many reasons that range from simple courtesy through political consequences to emotional importance. Myrna, a particularly expressive, loving and enthusiastically grateful woman has, as a grandmother, come to some conclusions about thank you notes, too often considered a kind of a relic, but a modern necessity all the more so in a society that purchases gifts online and directly from stores and sends them via mail.

Noah Griffin’s elegance a draw coast to coast right through Peru Indiana

Noah Griffin born and raised in San Francisco, California has a national reach through his elegant musical performances and The Cole Porter Society he started

Noah Griffin born and raised in San Francisco, California has a national reach through his elegant musical performances and The Cole Porter Society he started

Noah Griffin wanted to join a Cole Porter Society. Simple like that, really. He is, after all, a singer drawn to the boundless elegance of Cole Porter music and lyrics. Noah and Cole share history and flair. Each is a Harvard Law School graduate, each has an easy elegance, a feel for euphony and subtle rhythms, winds an audience around their little fingers, and the list goes on. If you know Noah, you know that a Cole Porter Society is meant for him, and look for one he did.

Alas, not so simple after all. There was no Cole Porter Society. Give up? Turn away? Do something else? Not like Noah, a socially fearless fellow, to walk away from a chosen destination so he stared a Cole Porter Society. Simple like that, really. Not just “a” Cole Porter Society, but “The” Cole Porter Society, which has leapt from San Francisco, California through Cole Porter’s birthplace of Peru Indiana to New York. To listen to Noah talk about how The Cole Porter Society took off in what seems to be pretty much a flash from San Francisco to New York is a lesson in pursuing a goal and creating what you know has value just for the joy of the potential.

Noah’s concerts are, and were from the first, played to packed houses. Part of that is Noah’s stage presence, joy and generosity, but a large part of it is the music that people have never forgotten, and to which today’s teens of all cultures still relate as Noah presents it. Noah has tapped into a serious yen for elegance of expression and wants to make it part of the popular musical world again. Sophistication lives everywhere, and to hear about his reception in Peru, Indiana (and how he got there), is a tribute to the power of music to bring people of widely differing societal spheres together. Turns out once again that what comes from the heart enters the heart.

Jane Bragg and the samovar that carries her surprising family history from Kiev to SF

Jane Bragg

Jane Bragg

Jane Bragg, one of the world’s great storytellers, is back with another, this one about a samovar that led to the discovery of some unexpected family history details about her grandfather who was possibly a guard to the Czar of Russia, a world by and large closed to Jews and also her not uncommon relationship to Genghis Khan. To listen to Jane tell this story is a treat not just for the joy, candor and gusto she puts into every story (and conversation) but for the realization that even a small item can have a huge personally historical reach. Her love letter? So many possibilities like to the relatives who passed away without knowing this unusual family history, Jane’s part in re-discovering it and what her life is now in San Francisco so removed from the Siberia of her ancestors.

To save the life of a stranger Kristin Hove Herrera gave a kidney

To save the life of a stranger Kristin Hove Herrera gave a kidneyThanks to the extended reach of medical miracles and communication, there has come to be a new world of kidney transplantation. We hear about the fortunate people who have, as the media so often says, “found a kidney”. Found? Not at all. Given. And by someone. Today it is as likely as a gift from a stranger. How much do we know about the heroes who are the donors? Kristin Hove Herrera is one of the altruistic kidney donors who decided to give a kidney just to save the life of a stranger. To hear her talk about her decision, the surgery and the aftermath is an astounding look into the heart of a brave and selfless woman. To hear one of her exceptional underlying reasons for giving a life through a kidney donation is a lesson in faith in the future. And, her love letter? Exceptional and charming.