Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® To Honor Andrea Ivory With a 2011 Community Health Leaders Award
PRINCETON, N.J.—Even before Andrea Ivory was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had been on a quest for a “purpose-driven life.” She was a successful real estate agent in Miami searching for a more fulfilling existence. Her breast cancer diagnosis at age 45, Ivory said, was her “aha” moment.
Ivory realized that her breast cancer was detected early because she had access to doctors and insurance. So Ivory decided she wanted to help women who weren’t as fortunate. Using her skills as a realtor, Ivory mapped out neighborhoods and identified homes least likely to have access to health care. She gathered 20 friends, and they knocked on 100 doors in 10 minutes, dropping off literature about breast cancer awareness. Today, Ivory’s Women’s Breast Health Initiative in Miami Lakes, Fla., knocks on more than 10,000 doors each year to educate women about breast cancer and early detection and how to receive low- or no-cost mammograms. Since her first outreach campaign, Ivory’s 4,000 volunteers have reached more than 40,000 households.
For developing a grassroots education and outreach program for women at risk of breast cancer, Ivory has been named one of 10 recipients of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders Award. The award honors exceptional men and women who have overcome significant obstacles to tackle some of the most challenging health and health care problems facing their communities. Ivory will receive the award during a ceremony in Baltimore, Md., on November 9.
“The American Cancer Society statistics state that it takes 1,000 mammograms to identify two to four breast cancer diagnoses. Our targeted efforts have diagnosed women at twice the national rate,” Ivory said. “We are reaching women who are at higher risk, and they tell their friends and family about early detection. Our intervention is not only for the women; it’s for the medical community and the taxpayer. When we detect breast cancer early, it’s better for everyone.”
After conducting outreach in a particular neighborhood, Ivory’s organization circles back with a mammography van to provide free breast cancer screenings. The organization—which receives no federal, state, or local government funding—must pay to bring the mammography van into the neighborhood, but the mammograms are free to the women served by the Women’s Breast Health Initiative, Ivory said.
Community Health Leaders National Program Director Janice Ford Griffin said that the selection committee honored Ivory for her passion and persistence in saving women’s lives. “Andrea Ivory’s determination and her creative use of proven marketing techniques have opened the door for expanding education about and prevention of breast cancer, as well as other health issues that have a disproportionate impact on people with the least access to health care. Her effort in engaging and training volunteers also extends and expands the knowledge and skills for detecting breast cancer at its earliest stages,” Griffin said.
When Ivory started her outreach efforts, she said she “kept going until my friends stopped answering the phone when I called.” That’s when she knew she needed to hire someone to recruit volunteers. And that investment paid off. Ivory’s Women’s Breast Health Initiative has a volunteer coordinator who visits every college campus in the South Florida area to oversee 4,000 volunteers. A number of classes at local nursing colleges and schools of social work require their students to go door to door with the program. To reach even more women, Ivory has launched www.b4pink.com to educate about the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and how to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
A former reporter and now a board member of the Women’s Breast Health Initiative, Mayate Cordones, praised Ivory’s dedication. “What Andrea has accomplished is nothing short of miraculous. Her vision quickly evolved into a tangible community outreach program uniquely designed to reach uninsured or underserved women, one household at a time,” Cordones said.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has honored more than 190 Community Health Leaders since 1993. The work of the nine other 2011 recipients includes a project to help people with disabilities safely and confidently handle routine medical exams in Delaware; a transportation and support program for families with children battling cancer in San Diego; a community initiative to ensure access to medical care in the Kansas farm belt; a nurse training program for disadvantaged Hawaiian students; a home health aide service for elderly Asian Americans in suburban Philadelphia; a rural community health outreach program in the Delta region of Arkansas; an anti-hunger and nutrition program in New Brunswick, N.J.; health education for Mexican Americans in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and health care for the working poor in Altoona, Pa.
Nominations can be submitted for the 2012 Community Health Leaders Award through November 28, 2011. For details on how to submit a nomination, including eligibility requirements and selection criteria, visit www.communityhealthleaders.org.
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the Community Health Leaders Award to recognize individuals who overcome daunting obstacles to improve health and health care in their communities. Today, there are more than 190 outstanding Community Health Leaders from nearly all states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. For more information, visit www.communityhealthleaders.org.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For nearly 40 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.