Mary Joan Foundation: “Right now we need a lot of help from the community”

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This week, Mary Joan Foundation announced that they are on the way to celebrating their 15th anniversary, and they are organizing various activities to celebrate the occasion. At the same time, the foundation talked about the challenges they are facing.

Mary Joan Foundation Aruba was founded in 2007 in memory of Mary Joan Geerman, a woman who for 8 years long battled against Breast Cancer. She guided others and was an inspiration for a lot people. She passed away at the age of 40 in 2002. The goal of the foundation is to provide guidance and help to women and men who have breast cancer, starting from the moment the cancer is detected. The help includes giving advice, organizing talks and activities, as well as providing the service of a social worker and psychologist for free.

Arabela Colina, president of the foundation, explains that they have begun their fundraising months, during which they are also trying to find a new location. They have been searching for a few months already, but they haven’t found it easy to find a new location without paying rent; before, they only paid for services thanks to help from a local company. This is the main challenge the foundation is facing right now, and thus they are approaching the community to see if they can receive help for a new location, with affordable rent price, and where they can have enough space to make wigs, take consultations, and other activities.

“Right now we need a lot of help from the community”, Colina emphasized.

She also said the foundation keeps working, and after two years of not being able to do any activities because of the pandemic, they are now back to fundraising. They have also grown and are bringing new programs. “We are needed in the community, I think that is obvious, not only for women but also for men.”

She says that this year, mental health has been an important aspect among their cases. Mental health is important for everyone, but particularly for their clients who confront it more often. “It’s not easy when you find out about your health and you need to deal with it”, Colina says. She commented that they are very thankful to be able to help with mental health, particularly because in Aruba, sometimes patients need to go to their family doctor in order to be referred to a psychologist, and there is a long waiting period. But as a client of Mary Joan Foundation, there is a psychologist available within a week. Besides, every service they provide is free of change.

“This is why we are asking the community for help. We work on prevention, but the fact that we have clients with breast cancer, we cannot hide this reality. We give support to anyone who needs it, anyone who is suffering from breast cancer”, Colina mentioned.

Regarding their upcoming activities, she said that there will be a mass on the 25th of september to celebrate their 15 years of existence as a foundation. Secretary of the foundation, Stella Vrolijk said that the slogan they are using to open this campaign is “Helping support others is a privilege”. Vrolijk said that on the 2nd of October they will have a Bike Ride together with Shoco Legends Aruba B.C., who are busy helping organize the event together with Mary Joan Foundation.

Right now they have a pink ribbon campaign, selling pink ribbons for Afl. 3 and these are already available for those who want to bring awareness regarding prevention of breast cancer, and Vrolijk commented that this is part of the fundraising efforts for the foundation.

She also said that normally they collect funds in October, but this year they will begin in September.

As part of their activities this year, on the 30th of October they are hosting a 5km walk starting at 5pm in Eagle Beach. To register, click on www.maryjoanaruba.com/