Promoting breast cancer awareness Non-profit raises funds, offers free exams to uninsured women

A local non-profit organization spent the day in North Bergen’s business district collecting donations for an annual holiday party for breast cancer survivors, and allowing women over 40 without health insurance to sign up for free gynecological exams.

Hudson Perinatal Consortium, Inc., a Jersey City outreach organization that offers educational and health services, has held the Breast Cancer Awareness month event for the last five years.

Normally, it is held outside the Urban Enterprise Zone office at 7616 Broadway Ave. The rainy weather on Sept. 26 forced the event inside, but plenty of curious residents stopped in to donate to Hudson Perinatal or sign up for a free exam.

According to North Bergen resident Jennifer Singer, who has been working with Hudson Perinatal for the last year and is involved with their Teen Health Initiative Program, the day was a success despite the rain. Singer had interned with Hudson Perinatal and Planned Parenthood last year when she was pursuing her health science degree at New Jersey City University.

“I wanted to see both sides of the health science community outreach,” said Singer. “I loved Hudson Perinatal…working with the community is what I like.”

North Bergen UEZ Coordinator Kim Nicoliello said that the health exam sign-ups were the highlight of the day, and that “no questions are asked [about] whether you are a citizen or not.”

Singer spent her day signing up women 40 and older for free pap smears and mammograms as a part of the group’s breast cancer community outreach.

The women were given certificates that could be used throughout North Bergen, Union City, and Jersey City.

“It’s awesome just helping people in the community [of] Hudson County,” said Singer.

Positive community message

Mayor Nicholas Sacco attended the event and bought numerous teddy bears that were being sold by Hudson Perinatal. The money will help fund the survivor party at the end of the year.

Sacco said that the event was beneficial for the community at large and that it sends a positive message to women.

“I shows that [the UEZ has] a closer touch to their neighbors and surrounding area and to the needs of the people,” said Sacco. “It’s not just a business enterprise.”

Sacco said that he was happy that Nicoliello and Assistant UEZ Coordinator Betty Peralta organize the event each year. The UEZ is a state-designated urban business district that allows the businesses to charge a low 3.5 percent sales tax. The tax money can be used to beautify the zone.

North Hudson Community Action Corporation Job Developer Olga Velez was also present at the event. While she organizes numerous job outreach programs throughout the area, she said that this particular event held a lot of personal meaning for her. Velez is a cancer survivor, as are several of her relatives.

She said that her health organization, North Hudson Community Action, gets involved with “everything” in Hudson County and that she found working in the community an empowering experience.

“[Hudson Perinatal] is an awesome organization,” said Velez. She stressed the importance for women of all ages, even under 30 years old, to get tested for breast cancer if they can.

“It touches me in the heart,” said Velez.

Grant fund Hudson County outreach

A grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation funds this Hudson Perinatal outreach program in each Hudson County municipality.

Hudson Perinatal Program Coordinator Jeanne McMahon said that their organization has been serving women afflicted with breast cancer in Hudson County for a number of years.

McMahon said that the grant also funds wigs, prosthetics, and medication for women without health insurance. The group also donates medication to women who have health insurance, but are underfunded for their treatments.

“We serve women who are afflicted with breast cancer throughout the county, and it’s really a great way to get out there and be the face of breast cancer awareness in Hudson County,” said McMahon.

Andrea Drenzek, who has only been working on Hudson Perinatal’s new faith-based program that works with in conjunction with churches in educating women on premature births and health in relation to pregnancy, said that the day was a success.

Carina Carballo, a resident who stopped by, said that this program was important for her as she awaits the birth of her child in December.

“It’s very important for women and for families,” she said.

For more information on Hudson Perinatal, call (201) 876-8900.

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