Officials of the Kent Area (Ohio) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated presented checks to Summa Health supporting Summa Screens and the ANGEL Network at the organization’s 2019 Friendship Luncheon at Sheraton Suites. Members were acknowledged for their continuing support for important preventive and educational services that help improve access to lifesaving care for uninsured and under-insured women throughout the local region.
Members of the Kent Area (OH) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated share Summa Health’s commitment to serve the under-served. The chapter is the local arm of The Links, Incorporated, an organization of African American women founded in 1946 devoted to strengthening African American communities through fund-raising, education, advocacy and volunteering. Through the Kent Chapter’s Breast Health and Cancer Education, Awareness and Advocacy Program, members have provided many resources to women with limited access to basic care and health services.
“Linked in friendship and connected in service,” local Links members live their slogan. To that end, they have contributed thousands of dollars to Summa Screens, a program established in 2010 to provide free mammograms, breast ultrasounds and closed breast biopsies to women in need. The Links have also provided funding for the ANGEL Network, an acronym for African American Women Nurturing and Giving Each Other Life.
According to American Cancer Society statistics, women with low incomes and/or who are uninsured or under-insured are less likely to receive mammograms. This lack of access results in decreased early detection and, subsequently, lower survival rates. The problem is particularly dire in the African American community.
“Women of color with limited access to these tests are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and therefore have a higher mortality rate from breast disease,” said Deborah Gordon, immediate past president of the local chapter. “Economic issues prevent them from seeking care early when breast disease is most curable. The Summa Screens program gives us a perfect way to give back to our local community in alignment with the national goals of our organization.”
“Education is critical,” said longtime Links member Roxia Boykin, who served as a key player in the development of the Summa Screens Program at Summa Health. She recalls the system-wide vision to create a place for all women to receive lifesaving screenings regardless of their ability to pay.
Another important component of the Links’ Breast Health Program is the education members provide through ANGEL Network. The mission of the ANGEL Network is to reduce the number of deaths within the African American female population by empowering women to take better care of themselves. To that end, the ANGEL Network offers early detection programs, access to screenings, referrals to Summa Screens, and education about risk factors and healthy living practices that help to reduce the incidence of late-stage cancer diagnoses. Thousands of local women have learned about the importance of cancer screenings, including clinical breast exams by a licensed provider and how to perform self-examinations because of the ANGEL Network.
Additionally, the Kent Area (OH) Chapter purchases, collects and distributes new bras to women in need by partnering and collaborating with other service agencies and organizations. One of the women fitted by Deborah Gordon had been sharing the only bra she owned with her two daughters. “She was overjoyed to go home with new bras,” said Deborah.
Summa Health is at a pivotal time in its history having made a major investment to care for the Greater Akron region now and always. To provide the highest quality, most compassionate care, Summa counts on the spirit of generosity. As a true model of service and philanthropy, the Kent Area (OH) Chapter, The Links, Inc., demonstrates the power of that spirit today.