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YWCA ends breast cancer support, education program after losing funding

A local YWCA program that provided education, support and resources for local women battling breast cancer has ended.

Posted: Oct 15, 2019 5:22 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2019 5:30 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A local program that provided education, support and resources for women battling breast cancer has ended.

The EncorePlus program through the YWCA in St. Joseph was cut on September 1, 2019, after staff said they lost Susan G. Komen and Avon Grant funding. The non-profit organization was made aware of the cut in July 2018, but said they weren't able to find a way to keep the program running.

"We realized that the program was needing other funders. However, over the past year and a half, we were just unsuccessful in finding funding for the program to maintain," Tammy Killin, CEO of the YWCA, said. 

EncorePlus offered general education on breast cancer, awareness, health and prevention. It also steered women towards medical and support resources in the area, while also partnering with the Social Welfare Board to provide initial screenings and other services for women. 

"We wanted to visit agencies and organizations, churches, PTA groups, wherever there were women who wanted to learn about breast health," Ellen Kisker, family resources director at YWCA, said. 

Through these services, Kisker said the program assisted up to 1,500 women each year for over two decades. But, that amount doubled when adding in the multiple popular local events the program hosted annually. 

Those programs include Bras for a Cause and Bling a Bra (which raised money for breast cancer fighters by having people decorate bras with different themes to eventually be auctioned off), Celebration Rosa (which was geared towards and supported Hispanic women) and the Pink Tea Luncheon. 

"We love what we do and we love helping others, and so reality is sometimes a little bit harsh," Kisker said. "The other thing that we've come to find out is that there are so many people in our community that are like, 'we will help, we want to help.'"

The last EncorePlus event put on by the YWCA will be the Pink Tea Luncheon, taking place on Thursday, October 17. The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at the YWCA location (304 N. 8th St.), and the public is invited to attend. 

However, it may not be the end of all of these events. Killin said they've heard from other individuals and groups in St. Joseph who hope to keep the Bras for a Cause, Celebration Rosa and Pink Tea Luncheon events going.

"We believe that we'll see in the next year or so these people coming out and saying, 'hey, we're still continuing these wonderful events," Killin said. 

While making the decision to cut the program was tough, Killin said there are still several resources to help local women who are battling breast cancer in the area. They encourage anyone in need of help to reach out to the Social Welfare Board, Breast Care Cancer Center or Northwest Health Services. 

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