Library Cancer Councils Bring Fight To Communities
In an effort to bring free or low cost access to cancer care, information and screenings to medically underserved communities in Queens, the Queens Library has taken the lead in an initiative that gives residents a say in the way services are brought to their neighborhoods.
The Queens Library HealthLink Initiative was born in 2007. Part of the five-year, $2 million federally funded program from the National Institutes of Health, is establishing Cancer Action Councils (CAC) throughout the branches of the Queens Library. For the last year, the CACs of the Far Rockaway and the Arverne Libraries have been working to get the word out about testing and prevention of cancer.
“The Far Rockaway CAC planned a health fair that took place at the library in June and Arverne planned a health fair that took place on Beach 57 Street between Beach Channel Drive and Arverne Boulevard last August,” said Tamara Michel, a HealthLink Community Outreach Coordinator for Queens Library in an e-mail. “The Arverne CAC has also planned mammography screening events in the community, which have allowed 27 women to get free mammograms.
They have also planned cervical cancer and emergency preparedness educational workshops at the Arverne Library. The Far Rockaway CAC has held workshops about breast and colorectal cancer at the local Catholic Charities center and held a Go Pink for Halloween Breast Cancer Awareness Dance-A-Thon with about 200 children and their families to raise awareness about breast cancer.”
The goal is for 20 libraries in the borough to eventually join the effort and, according to the HealthLink website, they will “serve as outlets for health research where they will partner and work closely with other organizations such as community agencies, religious institutions and local businesses.”
While the first year of the Rockaways’ two CACs has been successful, one member of the Far Rockaway group believes more involvement is necessary. Monique Wiggins lives in Ozone Park, but works in Far Rockaway.
“We need more members to come and be active,” said Wiggins, of the Far Rockaway CAC.
Both local CACs are planning for the future. The Far Rockaway CAC’s “Crafting for a Cause” would bring together community members partnering with CAC members’ organizations. The Arverne CAC is working on a documentary.
“They plan on creating different crafts that will be donated to local organizations and residents, especially those who have been diagnosed with cancer,” said Michel about the Far Rockaway crafts project. “The Arverne CAC is in the early stages of creating a documentary that will focus on the cancer experience in the Rockaways.”
The Queens Library works in collaboration with Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the American Cancer Society and the Queens Cancer Center of Queens Hospital in the HealthLink program.
A joint meeting of the two CACs will be held on Wednesday, January 27 at 1 p.m. at the Far Rockaway Library.
“If people are interested in learning more about the Far Rockaway CAC, they can contact Eilleen [Sabino] at 718-990-5102, and if people are interested in learning more about the Arverne CAC, they can contact me at 718-990-5197,” said Michel.