Phyllis Karlin is no stranger to cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer, her grandmother had it and herself was diagnosed with the disease five years ago. Now, Karlin is a cancer survivor who is giving back to the community in every way she could.
While volunteer work has always been a part of her life, after her mother's death Karlin established a relationship with Support Connection, the Yorktown-based non-profit foundation which provides services to women with breast and ovarian cancer.
Last week, Karlin held an annual fundraiser at her Mohegan Lake home, which was attended by about 80 women. They had the chance to purchase custom-designed jewelry and accessories – profits from the event get donated to Support Connection.
"I think that everyone should give back," said Karlin, who owns the KBK Designs jewelry store in Shrub Oak.
The store is the exclusive designer of Awareness Jewelry for Support Connection. It also features hand-crafted necklaces, bracelets, watches, earrings, eyeglass chains, handbag jewelry, and key chains created by the store's designers. Designers at the store also create jewelry for weddings and other formal events.
In April, 2007, Karlin and her KBK Designs staff received Support Connection's "Spirit of Caring" Award for "sharing their talent and kindness." Besides Karlin, the store's staff members include manager Debbie Castriota, of Mahopac; jewelry designers Sue Kelleher and Lisa Zarkower, both of Yorktown.
"It's a nice way to give back to the community and feel more connected to the people around you," Castriota said of their fundraising efforts.
After beginning a fund with Support Connection a few years ago, Karlin expanded her fundraising efforts in the community by contracting with the NYPD Relay For Life (The American Cancer Society), and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. She also supports the NYPD Policewomen's Endowment Association, the Hospice Care of Northern Westchester and Putnam and Relay For Life of Yorktown.
Working at KBK Designs – which opened its doors in 2004 and operates out of what used to be a 1940's Metro North train car, a dining cart and later a cigar shop – makes Karlin and Castriota happy, the women said.
What has made the jewelry store successful over the last few years, they said, is their low prices and relationships with the customers.
"We give you a lot of attention when you come in," Castriota said. "You should feel happy and pretty when you leave."
The store is located at 3668 Barger Street in Shrub Oak. They are open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. They are closed on Mondays. For more information call 914-245-0722.
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