Several months ago, the Komen foundation began working with Esperanza College students on a two year program to spread breast cancer awareness and prevention within the North Philadelphia Latino community. As part of the two-year project, Komen Philadelphia established cycles of education, which also offered college credits for participants from Esperanza College. These students then became Breast Health Advocates (BHA) who “carry out the mission for generations.”
Komen Philadelphia said of the program in their news blog:
“This is such a powerful partnership because both Komen Philadelphia and Esperanza College share the age-old philosophy: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” said Elaine I. Grobman, CEO, Susan G. Komen Philadelphia. “Yes, of course, we’re helping to provide Latinas in need with vital breast health services that will save lives today. But we’re also focused on laying the foundations that allow generation after generation to have increasingly better odds of surviving breast cancer. We’re cultivating hundreds of advocates to be vocal in educating and motivating others to take care of their breast health… and make it a part of a lifestyle they will pass on to their daughters and granddaughters.”
The culmination of the efforts to spread breast health awareness at Esperanza College was the Saturday, March 7th event “Latinas United for the Cure” which began with breakfast and a celebration with inspirational entertainment by Magdaliz and her Latin Ensemble CRISOL. The program opened in prayer by Dr. Lydia Lopez Ruiz, Director of Community and Human Services for Esperanza College of Eastern University. Elaine I. Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia, presented the 2015 Power of the Promise Award to Diego Castellanos for eleven years of support for Latinas United for the Cure and continual efforts to share their message to help educate and empower Latinas. Carlos Hernandez, Program Director of Grants & Public Policy at Komen Philadelphia, presented the Hope for Generations Student Recognition Award to Esperanza College’s Gloriaclaudina Torres for her dedication to promoting breast health in our community and recognized the work of Jessica Way and Nilsa Graciani in helping to organize this collaboration.
Esperanza College Program Director Nilsa Graciani spoke about the program’s tremendous impact for our community and our students:
“It’s been great to see the personal development taking place as students have become more assertive in reaching out to others. We’ve seen the effect of sharing the breast awareness message inside our school, as students talking to their moms and encouraging them to get their mammography. We’ve seen patients at local health centers filling an “Intent to act” card to visit their physicians. We’ve seen the pleasant surprise in patient’s faces when they find out that, through Komen and their partners, they can get a mammography even if they do not have health insurance. We know that this rippling effect is just starting, and we are very proud to be a part of it.”
It was a morning filled with prayer, advocacy, and education, but it was also a symbol of love and hope in supporting those who have lost loved ones in the battle against breast cancer and those still fighting.