Meet the Founders

Gems of Hope was founded in July of 2005. Sheila Harman and Beth Hammell had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous year. Sheila, inspired to help other patients as they went through their cancer treatment, called Beth and another friend, Cindy Sale who had been a caregiver to her brother with cancer. Together, the three women launched Gems of Hope, Inc. with the help of the Cedar Rapids community to support men and women during their cancer treatments.

Sheila lost her battle with breast cancer in April of 2008, nearly three years after she started Gems of Hope. As co-founders of the organization with her, Beth and Cindy continue to work hard to bring hope to all cancer patients as they go through all types of cancer treatment.

Gems of Hope was founded in 2005 by Sheila Harman, Cindy Sale, and Beth Hammell.

Left to right: Beth Hammell, Sheila Harman, and Cindy Sale, October 2006


Sheila Harman with Pastor Perry of St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Artist: Rev. Perry J. Fruhling | Title: St Marks Sermon 36 For Jan 28 | Year: 2007

Tribute to Sheila

November 27, 1959 - April 5, 2008
Written by her oldest daughter, Sydney

Whenever my mom looked at a person, place or thing she saw it not as what it was, but rather as what it could be. She saw potential everywhere and spent her life pushing those around her to blossom and reach goals they wouldn't dare to set for themselves. Whether you were 9 or 90, mom would instantly make you feel like an old friend... and if you hung around for an hour or two, she would have you committed, in one way or another, to changing your life for the better.

I could fill many, many pages with the lessons I learned from Sheila Harman, but the most salient thing she ever taught me by example was the exquisiteness of living joyfully. I do not mean to say she was always happy; mom had worries and fears and frustrations like everyone else. The difference was the joy with which she was always filled- a gift from God that gave her the ability to appreciate and make the most of every moment, no matter how insignificant or even painful it might be. She was fueled by this gratitude, the love of her ever growing group of family and friends, and most of all by her faith.

As everyone who worked with her knows well, mom had a keen eye for possibilities, but somehow was completely blind to whatever practical obstacles stood between her and her latest idea. This quality sometimes drove us crazy, but it's what's made us who we are today. It's what turned Gems of Hope from a few phone calls and emails to reality. I know mom would be so proud of what Gems has become... a source of love and support for those who truly need it, and perhaps more importantly a way for those who volunteer to learn the joy that comes from living beyond oneself, and seeing things not as they are, but as they could be.
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