By Taffy Tamblyn
Komen Lowcountry’s mission is to reduce the barriers to breast health care and treatment for men and women in our local communities. Our most vulnerable and underserved populations face obstacles every day that many cannot even imagine. Everyone deserves equal access to quality care and our grants help provide that. Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate, and neither do we.
Many do not realize donations made to the Lowcountry Affiliate stay here to care for our local service area. It does not go to our parent organization, except for a small portion for research grants. Our staff of four works closely with our partners and the community, establishing personal relationships that extend far beyond an educational pamphlet. We are a family. If our funding decreases, we must face our grantees and those they serve with the news that we can no longer provide for their much-needed programs. No words can describe how difficult it is to tell a woman, who’s already terrified about the strange lump in her breast, that there are no funds for her care.
Every county and every population we serve is unique in its needs. However, all are feeling funding cuts from every direction. Without Komen Lowcountry, many life-saving programs could not continue and thousands would have nowhere to go for help. Since 2005, we have invested over $2 million in our large grants program alone, providing over 7,493 mammograms and leading to the detection of more than 60 breast cancers directly through our grantees. An additional 2,125 people have been referred for mammograms through our grants programs. Many times, Komen Lowcountry grants have provided a safety net for those who fall through the cracks, including young women, men, and the working poor. Breast health education is also a key component and our grantees have reached over 425,000 individuals with the information we provide.
More than $4.5 million has been invested locally in our mission programs since 1999. Our grants are made to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations and state institutions that are located in or serve one or more of the 17 counties in our service area: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Orangeburg, and Williamsburg. Allendale Community Hospital, St James Santee Rural Health Care, Georgetown Hospital, Roper-St. Francis, MUSC, Greater St. Paul’s AME, Share Our Suzy, and the South Carolina Cancer Alliance are just a few of our past grantees.
Grant making decisions are based on the needs identified in our 2011 Community Profile. This needs assessment was compiled from extensive research, including input from neighborhood focus groups and healthcare providers. Our funding priorities are to:
• Reduce the barriers to screening and treatment, especially for rural populations, African Americans, and Hispanics.
• Increase education about breast health, breast cancer screenings, and available resources for both the general public and medical providers.
• Improve support services for survivors, including specific survivor populations such as men, patients with metastatic disease, and young women.
Details about our grants and policies are always available for public viewing on our website: www.komenlowcountry.org.
We appreciate the continued support of our many donors, sponsors, and volunteers. It is because of you that the women and men of Komen Lowcountry’s service area are able to access the care they so desperately need.
Taffy Tamblyn is the Executive Director of the Lowcountry Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Komen Lowcountry wants to clear the air on recent issues from the national branch and remind our Lowcountry supporters what it is exactly that the local affiliate does in our community.