Women Helping Women fundraiser goes online again

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GREENFIELD — The 23rd annual Women Helping Women event, hosted by the Hancock Health Foundation, has been canceled due to COVID precautions.

One of the biggest fundraisers in the county, the event generates funds for the Andis Women’s Clinic at Hancock Regional Hospital, which provides health screenings for women, especially those who are uninsured or underinsured.

“After careful consideration, the decision to cancel (the in-person event) was made by hospital leadership in the interest of everyone’s health and safety,” said Steve Long, president and CEO of Hancock Regional Hospital, in a message to ticket holders and past supporters last week.

“September was the worst month of the pandemic at Hancock Health with record numbers of COVID-related services being provided. Thankfully COVID numbers are falling, but not quickly enough for us to move our meetings and other events back to an in-person status by the end of October,” he said.

Tickets had already been sold to this year’s event, which was to be held Thursday, Oct. 28, at Adaggios Banquet Hall in Greenfield.

Ticket holders are eligible for refunds, or have the option of leaving the money with Women Helping Women to benefit the clinic.

Items that were to be auctioned off in a live and silent auction at the event are now up for online bidding, which started Monday, Oct. 25. The bidding ends Friday, Oct. 29.

Nancy Davis, the health foundation’s executive director, said the ongoing health crisis has made supporting the women’s clinic more essential than ever before.

“This year our clinic is in a very vulnerable position. The current health and economic crisis has significantly impacted the clinic’s other funding sources, making it even more crucial for Women Helping Women to support these programs,” she said. “Many of the grant funds we have received in prior years are no longer available to us, so maximizing our event’s proceeds is especially critical this year.”

The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, said Davis, especially those who are low income and/or without health insurance.

“It’s becoming increasingly important that the women’s clinic is there to serve individuals in our community who cannot afford their mammograms and other health-care services,” she said.

For more than 20 years, Women Helping Women has been a leader in breast cancer awareness, prevention and advocacy in the community, Davis said.

The clinic enables women who meet age, income and insurance guidelines the opportunity to have a Pap test, pelvic exam and breast health services.

Last year, Women Helping Women supported 151 patients by paying for their mammograms, clinical breast exams, biopsies, bone density screenings and pelvic ultrasounds, she said. The program  also provided education, navigation and support services.

More than $95,000 was raised at Women Helping Women in 2019; more than $86,000 was raised through the virtual event in 2020.

Davis and Long are both hopeful that supporters will once again be generous in supporting the event and online auction this year.

In last week’s message to supporters, Long encouraged them to continue giving and expressed hope that next year’s event would return to the popular in-person format.

“We are hopeful that the current (COVID) surge marks the last of the pandemic, and life will be back to normal next year,” he said.