Grantee Spotlight

Salon Outreach at the YWCA of Binghamton

This past year the YWCA of Binghamton partnered up with local salons to provide outreach to women ages 40 and up. While looking into new ways to reach the community, the Binghamton YWCA identified areas where people gathered to socialize. The target audience was women 40 and above who don’t have health insurance or who have high copays. One place that came up in their discussion was local hair salons. The owners of salons quite often do not have health insurance themselves because they are small business owners. In using salons as places of outreach, the YWCA is not only able to reach the women who come to get their hair done, but also the women who work at the salon.

The hairdressers in the salons are given basic information about the screening programs that the Binghamton YWCA facilitates along with an apron with pockets for pamphlets. They are asked to wear the aprons around the salons to create customer’s curiosity and prompt them ask to questions. The hairdressers then give the customer information about the breast cancer outreach program. If the woman is uninsured or has a high copay, then the hairdresser encourages the woman to sign up for the Binghamton YWCA’s programs. The YWCA sets up a table in the salon in order to make sign up easy. At the table there is more information about the programs that the YWCA offers along with a signup sheet. The women write down their name, phone number, and date of birth and, in return, receive a goodie bag. At the end of the program period the YWCA collects the sign-up sheets and follows up with anyone listed, fielding any further questions that they might have and helping connect with the services that they request. The YWCA also has the hairdressers hand out postcards to everyone who had their hair done in the salon. The postcards have the YWCA’s information listed on it along with all the screening programs that they offer.

This program most recently ran from January through March, 2016. Each month the YWCA of Binghamton randomly selected 5 salons in rural areas around Broome County and asked if they would participate in the program. At the end of the month the YWCA would pick up the sign-up sheet that they had left at the salon in order to contact the people that had left their information for follow up. They would then move on to another five salons the next month. An average of 4 people per salon signed up and went into the screening program in each month during the program’s operation. The YWCA of Binghamton developed an outreach strategy where the information was distributed into the community by the people working and living there. 

Community Outreach by the Camden County Cancer Screening Project

Based out of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, the Camden County Cancer Screening Project (CCCSP) has been focused on providing free education, outreach, and screening for breast cancer to underserved communities in Camden County. The program currently screens 1000 to 1200 women annually. The CCCSP’s goal is to provide quality health care services to the underserved and uninsured in their community while also improving the rate for early detection of cancer. They strive to create unique outreach and educational tools to suit the needs of their community. These programs are both culturally and linguistically relevant to the community. In line with their desire to be linguistically relevant to Camden County, the program has three full time workers who are fluent in Spanish and English, and a part time worker who is fluent in Hindi and English. They also employ a consultant outreach worker through one of their outreach agencies. The consultant provides outreach and education for the Vietnamese community who is also bilingual.

In 1997 the program developed a live play titled “We’re Shirley”. “We’re Shirley” educated African American women about breast cancer in a light-hearted manner.  They then went on to develop a similar live play for the Latina community called “El Secreto de Marta” or “Marta’s Secret”. “El Secreto de Marta” educated the Latina community in Spanish about breast cancer. The two plays, while similar in content, were created with different audiences in mind. They also were effective tools for spreading information about breast cancer within the community they were aimed at.

Another of their outreach strategies are Home Health Parties which seek to provide education about breast cancer through games. These Parties are hosted in the community in houses, community centers and churches. The CCCSP brings refreshments and prizes into the venue along with a nurse and an outreach worker. At the party the nurse and the outreach worker facilitate two educational games with the people present. During one of the games, Breast Cancer Risks, around fifteen questions are asked around the risks of breast cancer. In the second game that they play, Breast Cancer Facts and Myths, each player is given a card. The cards have two sides, one labeled 'Facts' the other labeled 'Myths'. The participants are asked to sort questions into either fact or myth. Some of the questions presented are: “Does deodorant cause breast cancer? Do bras, cellphones, or getting hit in breast cause breast cancer?” During both games people who answer a question correctly receive a “breast cancer dollar.” At the end of the game the people with the most breast cancer dollars receive a special gift. With older groups they also have the ability to play Bingo. A resource in North Carolina developed the cards and all the terms have to do with breast cancer risks. 

These games open the door to conversations about both the risks and the myths around breast cancer, in a setting that is casual. The games also promote awareness about the importance screening for breast cancer. Held in both Spanish and English, the parties bring education and awareness to the community in a personal one-on-one manner, inviting individuals in for a conversation. Uninsured people at the parties gain awareness of the CCCSP and its resources. The parties also allow people to learn more information and spread the word about the resources they have learned about. 

A large part of the success of the program is in their felxability. In the past the project tried using door-knockers to get the word out about their programs. Out of the 10,000 door-knockers that they put out into communities selected by a need assessment, only about 100 people reached replied to them. The impersonal and unsolicited method did not work so they decided to build a relationship within the community to figure out how to best get news of the programs that they offered out. In of the programs CCCSP provides they not only focus on providing information and services, but on connecting the community to the CCCSP staff. CCCSP recognizes the importance of building community relationships and partnerships. In turn the community acts as important resource for CCCSP, promoting their programs to community organizations in need of education about breast cancer screening awareness. Additionally, most of the women that CCCSP has in their programs have come in through peer referrals as the program encourages women, both past and present clients, to refer other women to their programs. 

Since the Affordable Care Act has been implemented the number of Latina, Vietnamese, Indian, and undocumented women seeking their services has increased while the number of white, African American, and documented women had decreased. This is because under the ACA most of the documented community has access to health care. Recently, though, they have started tracking those who used to use the services provided by the ACA, but now no longer pay into it and have returned to the CCCSP for their breast cancer screening. Through this tracking they have noticed that a number of people have gone off the ACA’s services and returned to using the CCCSP’s services for breast cancer screening.