General News

AVRF Children’s Retreat Pays It Forward to Humane Society of Pinellas

September 16, 2021

CLEARWATER, FL – American Vitiligo Research Foundation (AVRF) founder and president Stella Pavlides shared an update about the nonprofit organization’s efforts to “pay it forward.”

Founded in 1995, AVRF is the only humane vitiligo charity worldwide, according to Greek-American Pavlides who developed vitiligo in her early 20s. Each year, AVRF hosts a children’s retreat for youngsters who have the life-altering skin disorder. Pavlides told The National Herald that “the AVRF completed our 2021 children’s retreat and although smaller than usual, it was still a big success… each year our kids ‘pay it forward’ to another charity since I want them to help others.”

She continued: “This year we gave to our local humane society [Humane Society of Pinellas], since it is a ‘no kill’ [shelter]. I started the ‘paying it forward’ program many years ago, and my goal was to have our children not only focus on themselves, but also on others.”

Darren Rivera, Annual Giving and Grants Manager for the Humane Society of Pinellas, thanked Pavlides and AVRF in a letter. He wrote: “On behalf of the animals at Humane Society of Pinellas and the staff who cares for them, thank you for the impressive collection of toys, accessories and creature comforts the American Vitiligo Research Foundation donated to our shelter.”

Rivera continued: “Humane Society of Pinellas is the County's largest no-kill shelter and has been serving the community for more than 70 years. We rely on the kindness, compassion and generosity of individual donors and organizational partners such as AVRF to help prevent animal homelessness and provide care and assistance to animals in need. The items you donated will provide the dogs and cats in our care with enrichment to fill their days with vital mental stimulation, exercise and help them feel comfortable and more at home during their stay with us as they await adoption into their forever homes.”

Pavlides also updated TNH on the efforts in finding new treatments and even a cure for vitiligo. She said that “presently, I am working with Greek-American Dr. Nick Theodosakis, a dermatologist from Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital. He works for Dr. David E. Fisher, the dermatology chair.”

As Pavlides told TNH in a previous interview, Dr. Fisher “believes he has a good chance to end the suffering of those affected by vitiligo by either finding an effective treatment or the cure. The only thing inhibiting this from happening is the lack of funds.”

Dr. Fisher wrote to Pavlides: “Thank you for the opportunity to comment to you and share my enthusiasm for the wonderful work you are doing, advocating for patients (and especially children) who are suffering from vitiligo. As you know, vitiligo is a debilitating condition that arises from the loss of pigment producing cells in the skin. The result is patches of depigmentation that can have major psychological consequences. Some have described vitiligo as a cosmetic condition—but this is incorrect because the consequences of vitiligo run much deeper than a cosmetic label might imply.

“As we have discussed, the science underlying the development of vitiligo has been growing at an exciting pace. Discoveries are being made, regarding genes that can be associated with vitiligo. And there are certain drugs which can cause vitiligo— thereby offering significant clues to the causation and hopefully effective treatments eventually.

“While research has been moving forward, we know that the pace of discovery has not been adequate. Those of us working in the trenches are hoping to gain clinically actionable insights soon, but we know the challenges in our patients are formidable. We stand together with patients, their families, and loved ones, forcefully advocating for the support of more research and resources to help discover better treatment options. And we stand together with AVRF and you, who have dedicated yourself to helping countless children and other patients afflicted with vitiligo. I salute your magnificent mission, and am pleased to support you in your wonderful work.”

More information about donating to AVRF is available online: https://www.avrf.org/.


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The National Herald’s Happenings of the Week (Jan 8 – Jan 15) as have been reported at the print and digital editions of TNH and presented by the TNH Editor Eraklis Diamataris.