Your Dollars, Making an Impact: Project Hoffnung and The Black Bonnet Project

Ever wonder how your donation dollars help? Where does the money go and who does it directly help? Komen Columbus has a proud tradition of partnering with many organizations to help men and women who are underserved and uninsured in our 30-county service area. This year alone, we granted nearly $2 million to support 34 programs in Central and Southeastern Ohio communities. This milestone moment would not be possible without the generosity of our sponsors, Race participants and all those people who give to Komen Columbus. For the next 20 weeks, we will feature our grantees so you can see and read how your dollars are making an impact.

Guest Writer: Molly Osmon

Here at Komen, our mission is to educate and encourage all women to have a mammogram yearly. While our daily efforts reach millions, there are certain populations who don’t hear our voice. Statistics show that women in the Amish and Mennonite communities are far less likely to have a yearly mammogram due to a lack of access to these services; and as a result, are at a significantly higher risk of advanced stage at diagnosis. With Ohio containing the world’s largest Amish settlement, we knew we had to find a way to reach these underserved women.

To ensure every woman has access to the services she needs, Komen Columbus awarded two grants to The Ohio State University College of Public Health for its Black Bonnet Project and to the Center for Appalachia Research in Cancer Education for its Project Hoffnung. Together, these projects are improving the lives of hundreds of women in rural Ohio.

Project Hoffnung: The Amish and Mennonite Breast Health Project

Project Hoffnung was established in 1997 to address the health disparities in the Amish community. Hoffnung was developed through a series of focus groups, interviews and a community led advisory team. This strategic planning was done to ensure the project was developed based off a thorough understanding of the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of the Amish community. The project sought to understand how Amish women view breast cancer screening and treatment. By understanding this, the project could then provide culturally competent education and services.

Project Hoffnung seeks to prevent unnecessary deaths from breast cancer of Amish and Mennonite women through education and early screening. To date, Project Hoffnung has established seven screening locations in eight counties across rural Ohio.

To date, the program has educated and screened more than 1,700 Amish and Mennonite women throughout the rural and Appalachian regions in Ohio which have the largest Amish and Mennonite population in the world. This population also has a higher breast cancer mortality rates than non-Amish women, said Program Director Melissa Thomas.

“Our program is successful because we have trained community health workers who have an understanding of the Amish and Mennonite communities, their language, beliefs, etc.,” said  Thomas, “Many of our health care workers are tri-lingual who speak English, Pennsylvania Dutch and German.”

Project Hoffnung – which means “hope” in German ¬- works with various agencies across the state to ensure these women are getting screened and learn about breast health. For most women who attending a breast screening at a local church, this is their first mammography and first time seeing a mammogram machine.

“It’s an amazing experience to be part of  this effort,” said Thomas, who says one of the pastors told him what she and volunteers do is missionary work, “With Komen dollars we know that we are saving lives and keeping families intact.

The Black Bonnet Project 

The Black Bonnet Project, now in its third year, also provides breast cancer screening information and services to Amish women. However, this project focuses on women living in Gallia and Jackson Counties in Appalachia Ohio. The Black Bonnet Project provides funds to cover not only early screening examinations but the funds for additional testing in case of a positive clinical breast examination or abnormal mammogram. The project also provides transportation for women to attend all activities associated with the project.

The women served by the Black Bonnet Project often times do not have health insurance and do not have public transportation available for them to attend medical appointments or screening examinations. The Black Bonnet Project addresses these needs and is an example of a community academic partnership.

“The Amish women contacted us, we developed a program together, and we are working together to ensure the women are completing annual clinical breast examinations and mammograms,” said Mira Katz, associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Public Health.
The Black Bonnet Project is vital to the Amish community in Appalachia Ohio; and according to Katz, If Komen Columbus did not fund the project, it would not continue.

“Funding from Komen Columbus allows the Amish women living in Appalachia Ohio, who otherwise would not have access to breast health education, the opportunity to have clinical breast examinations, said Katz. The generosity of donations is critical to the Amish community.”

For a complete list of all our Komen Columbus grantees and the services and programs they provide, click here.

Read about other Komen Columbus Community Health Grantees here.