No woman is poor who has friends. And few know the richness offriendship as well as Betty Levenbach. Last spring, when Levenbachwas diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer, she says,"I did everything I could to overcome it." But oneprominent fear loomed: She believed she might lose her WestlakeVillage, California, business, Favorite Gifts, an educational toy,book, game and gift business she had been operating since 1991."My business is my passion," Levenbach says. "Myfamily wanted me to take it easy and concentrate on getting better.But I knew if I took a year or two years off, I wouldn't have abusiness."
That was when Connie Bereny, a fellow entrepreneurial woman andLevenbach's close friend, stepped in. Having read of the powerof community spirit in a book called Share the Care(Fireside), Bereny held a meeting of women business owners who wereunited in their determination to save Levenbach's business. Thegroup of 54 women--some friends, some strangers--formed committeesto take care of everything from bookkeeping and banking to salesand transportation. "Some days, I just had the front dooropen, and they would come in and say, `We're going to the bankfor you,' or `We sold this and made the invoice out,'" says Levenbach. When Levenbach worried about traveling tothe nearest cancer research institute, she says the women assuredher, " `We'll make a roster. Don't worry. You tell ushow often you need to go, and we'll take you there.'"
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