Spring 2009 Issue


ACE student and Florida Breast Health Initiative founder Andrea Ivory (second from left) works out in the field with fellow volunteers October 2008.

For the past four years, Andrea Ivory and a throng of volunteers from the Florida Breast Health initiative have knocked on more than 16,000 doors across Miami-Dade providing breast cancer education and free screenings for women who don’t have health insurance.

So when Charlene Thomas, one of Ivory’s own volunteers, came to her and told her that she, too, was uninsured, Ivory immediately helped her receive a referral for a mammogram exam; like the one’s provided on the organization’s two mobile units.

As a result, Thomas, 39, was diagnosed with cancer. She had been waiting to save up money for her exam. Had she, the chances of catching the cancer in its early stages may not have been the same. Today, she is cancer-free and continues her volunteer efforts.

“No one wants to wake up early on a Saturday to volunteer. But if you need motivation, I am walking reason as to why you should,” said Thomas.

Ivory, a Barry student at the School of Adult and Continuing Education, founded the grassroots organization after a 2004 routine mammogram revealed she had breast cancer. Ivory was fortunate enough to be insured, unlike the many of the women she helps. Today, she too is cancer-free.

“This is why we do what we do,” said Ivory, who was chosen as a 2008 Women of Worth by L’Oreal Paris for her volunteer efforts. “Through the Florida Breast Health Initiative, thousands of households have received life saving breast health information, referrals and the opportunity to have free screenings through our unique door-to-door outreach.”

More than 3,000 applications were sent in to the Women of Worth by L’Oreal Paris, an award that honors women for their inner beauty, volunteerism and for providing exceptional service to their communities. As one of only 10 finalists, $5,000 was donated in Ivory’s name to her charity of choice; Florida Breast Health Initiative. Another $5,000 was donated in her name to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

“I guess the biggest difference I feel I make is [helping] women to catch breast cancer early enough to do something about it,” she said.

In 2007, Ivory was also named one of 25 Yoplait Champions -- ordinary women and men who make extraordinary efforts in their local communities to help in the fight against breast cancer. Yoplait donated $1,000 to each champion’s charity of choice.

“Women are diagnosed every three minutes with breast cancer in the U.S.,” said Ivory, in reference to why she keeps up her efforts even when she feels tired or burnt out. “Everyone has been touched in some way by it, either [through] a family member, a friend or themselves.”