Running a Non-Profit from the Heart

August 4, 2016 10:22 pm

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Running a Non-Profit from the Heart

The mission of JJ’s Legacy has always been one from the heart.  In 2009 local mother Lori Malkin tragically lost the life of her youngest son, Jeffrey Johns.  In Jeff’s passing, Lori was approached with the opportunity to donate his organs, eyes and tissues to help save the lives of those in need.  Lori said yes in a heartbeat and her life was forever changed.  Jeff had a heart of gold and Lori knew that Jeff would have wanted to leave a legacy of helping others.


Lori and her family were so deeply touched by the whole experience, that they wanted to give back and inspire others to also leave a legacy through organ, eye and tissue donation.  JJ’s Legacy was established in record time, and although the vision was sparked by Lori, it was made possible by a community of heart-centered supporters.  JJ’s Legacy has since grown into one of the largest and most well known non-profits in Kern County.


When Founder, Lori Malkin, was asked what the secret to her success was, she responded, “I followed my heart. Giving back and supporting our community feels right to me, and I have an amazing and supportive board as well as a strong team to help bring my visions to life.” With the organization’s mission to educate the local community about the importance of organ, eye and tissue donation, inspire people to sign up to save lives and comfort local families touched by donation, the organization has been growing exponentially since its inception.  JJ’s Legacy partners with local hospitals in Kern County, countless other local sponsors, and has a growing list of volunteers that give of themselves year-round.


Though the organization hosts fundraising events all year round, they are best known for their signature JJ’s Legacy Gala and Golf Tournament that take place every March.  With funds raised, annual grants are awarded to local families who have been touched by the cause, transportation grants to patients who need support traveling outside of the area for treatment, and even offer JJ’s Legacy Build-A-Bear children’s program for burn survivors at San Joaquin Community Hospital.  Annually, the Legacy of Humankindness award, a partnership with Dignity Health, provides one donor family the opportunity to have their loved one honored nationally as part of the Donate Life Rose Parade Float. Most recently, they have even started a grief support group for recipients, patients waiting for transplantation and donor family members.


To fulfill their mission of educating the local community and increasing donor registration, JJ’s Legacy has produced numerous PSAs and regularly partners with the OneLegacy Ambassador program to conduct high school educational presentations.


When Lori was asked what she visualizes for the future of JJ’s Legacy, she said, “There’s so much to be done. With the tremendous support of the community, it continues to grow above and beyond anything I ever imagined.  I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface.  We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve always been doing.  We’ll listen to the needs of Kern County and follow our hearts as we partner with our community to continue helping people.”


For more information about JJ’s Legacy, visit us online at or you may email


Written by Christina Courtney

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