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Monday, May 25, 2015

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Woman donates hair to kids who’ve lost theirs

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OTTAWA — Floralove Katz’s four-line e-mail signature is a concise summary of her eclectic accomplishments: “Senior policy adviser, government of Canada; Licensed wedding officiant, province of Ontario; Band leader, artistic director, the Ottawa Klezmer Band; Professional mediator, conflict resolution.”

Floralove Katz after her haircut

Add to that “volunteer extraordinaire” and you have a picture of a woman whose boundless enthusiasm and mammoth talents have enriched her adopted city of Ottawa in a variety of ways.

Katz’s latest mitzvah is the donation of her hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in Canada and the United States who have lost their hair for medical reasons.

“I first learned about Locks of Love in a TV news story about four years ago. A young girl in elementary school was deeply moved by the story of another little girl elsewhere in the United States who had suffered from alopecia [a disease that causes baldness],” Katz said.

“The story featured the first little girl determining to grow her hair long enough [10 inches, tip to tip] to convert into a wig for the little bald girl. Eventually she did, and the short news piece showed her going to the hair salon with her mum and the deft young wig-maker who donated his time and talent for the new wig, and eventually, the two smiling little girls meeting – with their mothers – both sporting the same hairstyle, and the same hair colour, of course.”

Katz said that she “was so moved by that act of selflessness and goodwill and the happiness it generated in so many people and the potential for further goodwill, I resolved to do the same and started growing my hair long from then on.”

Donating her hair isn’t the only way she’s quite literally given of herself.

Katz is also close to her 100th blood donation, contributing every two weeks through Canadian Blood Services. “The need for both platelets and whole blood is always growing, not only for those requiring surgery, but also for cancer patients whose blood doesn’t clot due to chemotherapy,” she said.

On a lighter note, Katz regularly donates her musical talents as both a vocalist and cellist. She’s a soprano with the Opera Lyra Ottawa chorus who served for 10 years as lay cantor at Ottawa’s Temple Israel, and she performs regularly with her own 25-year-old Ottawa Klezmer Band. The band has played across across Canada and in the United States.

Active in the Jewish community and on behalf of Israel, Katz has used her musical talent to promote peace and understanding. In one such project, she brought together more than 100 musicians, poets, artists, and parliamentarians of all parties on one stage for a concert titled “Suicide Bombing is an Act of Genocide Against All of Humanity.”

Originally from Montreal, Katz learned volunteerism from her family. “I was imbued with a rich Jewish cultural life through our extended family situation. My beloved parents and three brothers and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment above my extraordinary maternal grandparents, David and Rose Gottlieb. We celebrated all the Jewish holidays, played and sang lots of music together, and shared a basic system of Jewish ethical behaviour,” she said.

 

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