Gilda’s Club Westchester, a free cancer support community for men, women, children, family, and friends, has launched the River Town Communities Cancer Support Services Program to expand outreach efforts to underserved and Spanish-speaking individuals from 19 lower Hudson Valley river communities.
The creation of the River Town program was spurred through a generous grant awarded by the Phelps Community Corporation. Gilda’s Club Westchester will now expand the depth and reach of the care it provides, including flexible, free, and virtual services year-round to 19 communities in the Hudson Valley: Ardsley-on-Hudson, Briarcliff Manor, Buchanan, Crompond, Croton-on-Hudson, Crugers, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Maryknoll, Millwood, Montrose, Ossining, Peekskill, Pleasantville, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, and Verplanck.
According to Jen Scully, Director of Gilda’s Club Westchester, this program was inspired by research that showed an “unmet need of individuals living in river town communities each year who are diagnosed with, or otherwise dealing with, a cancer diagnosis in any way.” This includes caregivers and family members, as well as those who have experienced a loss, all categories for which Gilda’s Club of Westchester currently provides programs.
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The program aims to target low-income river town communities to reach underserved individuals with cancer psycho-social support services. Those services, in addition to being offered in-person, will also be continually offered virtually to enable those who may not have a means of transportation or can’t travel to still find the help they need. Going forward, Gilda’s Club plans on keeping that hybrid model.
“We’ve always served these communities. We’ve seen a lower number of individuals coming to our programs because of a number of barriers,” says Scully. “It also opens us up to provide more. We’re hiring more Spanish-speaking staff; we can produce educational materials in Spanish. We’re finding that educational programs, social events, and information finding are big for Spanish communities participating in Gilda’s Club. It’s an incredible outreach opportunity.”
All of the programs at Gilda’s Club are free to anyone expressing a need, in order to eliminate financial, transportation, language, work schedule, and childcare barriers. Among the elements of this program are bilingual counseling sessions, support groups, education and healthy lifestyle programs, social events, a Survivorship Series, Resiliency Skills Training, and a Spirituality Discussion Group. There is even a walking group that that meets weekly and outdoor programs for kids and teens.
For more information about Gilda’s Club of Westchester and to find their programing schedule, check out the website.