If you have the chance to look at the Mid-Hudson Bridge at night during this month, you may notice that that it’s glowing pink. That’s no coincidence: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the thousands of pink lights on the structure is just one of the ways that the Hudson Valley is spreading awareness about the disease.
1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and the second leading cause of death in women, only narrowly trailing behind heart disease. Because of the growing impetus to fund research and services associated with breast cancer, October has become a month filled with philanthropic opportunities at many different establishments.
Two Poughkeepsie restaurants – The Pour House and The Derby – are both among these places who are supporting the cause this month. The restaurants fall under the same ownership but have both found success through utilizing a couple of different month-long promotions that they’ve attempted to endorse on social media. This October, 25 percent of the proceeds from dinner on Saturday nights at The Pour House, and from dinner on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights at the Derby will be donated to the national awareness organization American Cancer Society (ACS). In addition, the two restaurants have created a special “pink drink” cocktail list where $1 from every cocktail sold will be donated to ACS at the end of the month.
Lauren, the hostess at The Pour House, said that the two promotions have gone over pretty well considering that it was the first time that the restaurants had tried it.
“We’ve tried to spread the word about this promotion through social media, and I think the ‘pink drink’ idea has been the most successful idea. It’s only been half a month, and the pink alcohol that we use to make the cocktails is halfway gone,” she said.
Likewise, The Derby has also found that this promotion is a good, fun way to spread awareness and raise funding for breast cancer research. “People are definitely coming for the cocktail specials,” said Jonathan, bartender at The Derby. “All of the bartenders keep track of the drinks sold on a ledger behind the bar so that at the end of the month we can donate all of the proceeds.” When asked if either restaurant would do this promotion again, he said: “Absolutely. Hopefully we’ll continue to get more local consciousness next year, and work on our social media so that more people know that we’re doing this. We might even add or change the promotions; but supporting this cause will definitely happen again.”
As with every cause, however, it is extremely important to know where exactly the proceeds are going. Breast cancer awareness groups in particular have come under fire in recent years – most notably the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, which is the largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the nation – for “pink-washing” in their campaigns; this term comes from the use of using pink ribbons and other symbolically pink merchandise to supposedly promote breast cancer awareness, when in reality the brunt of the endorsements are made to promote sponsors who may be linked to unhealthy lifestyles or companies who deceptively benefit more than the charity. The American Cancer Society, as another example, spends 40 cents per each dollar on administrative costs, with the majority of that money going to the headquarters in Washington D.C.
That is not to say that these large companies are fraudulent; they do a fantastic job of spreading awareness on a national scale and fund millions of dollars for research and services on a constant basis. Both Jonathan and Lauren, when asked why their owner chose American Cancer Society to donate the proceeds said it was because ACS puts so much emphasis on funding research for a cure for metastatic breast cancer, which is so necessary.
Other establishments in the Hudson Valley, such as Beacon’s Hudson Valley Beach Glass, chooses to support local awareness groups. Kathleen Anderson, an employee for the company, said that they choose to support many health-related causes on a local scale. This October, they are combining their tenth anniversary with the desire to raise funds for breast cancer by releasing two limited edition colors of their hand-blown glass: rose quartz pink and pearl pink, of which 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation.
“Hudson Valley Beach Glass has been working with Miles of Hope for over four years now,” said Anderson, “but this is the first year where we’ve expanded on our normal fourteen colors and added the two pink tones. They’re not easy to make, and so what we’ve made now will be it for October. But they’re been very well-received thus far.”
The local company also uses various pieces collected throughout the year and donates them to be bid on at silent auctions that benefit breast cancer research. On one occasion they even created pink pint glasses for a charity event that was put on by Miles of Hope. Supporting this local non-profit organization, said Anderson, was a no-brainer. “As a local company, we understand the importance to support other local organizations. We know that by doing this we are not only supporting their cause at a local level, but that the benefits from the cause will help the local people that we see every day.”
Miles of Hope Breast Cancer Foundation – a nonprofit public charity founded in 2004 by Dana Effron and Cathy Varunok – is the main foundation dedicated to services associated with breast cancer awareness in the eight counties of the Hudson Valley. According to Pari Forood, Executive Director of the foundation, Miles of Hope was founded by two women “who wanted to see the effects of their work on the Hudson Valley.”
Forood also echoed Anderson’s sentiment about supporting the local nonprofit groups, saying that “people want to know that their money is helping their neighbors, their family, their friends. Orginally you just supported a charity and you didn’t know or care where the money was going. Now, supporters are smart. Miles for Hope only spends 17 cents per dollar on administrative costs, and we’re very proud of that. I think the people who choose to donate to use are, too.”
Fishkill’s Dazzles Salon certainly looked for this emphasis on local support when starting their online marketing campaign to support breast cancer this month. “For every gift certificate sold online this month, $5 will be donated to Miles of Hope,” said Rose, an employee at the salon. “My bosses were very particular about who we wanted to donate to, because this is our first time trying out a promotion of this kind. In the end, we chose local.”
Whether establishments across the Hudson Valley donate on a local or national scale, Forood applauds all of the efforts that have been made this October to spread awareness of this cause. “Ultimately, if you’ve done your research, and you are supporting this fantastic cause, you cannot go wrong,” she said. “All of these places have done a phenomenal job of raising funds for research and services in both effective and appealing ways, and at the end of this month with their help we will be one step closer to finding the cure for this disease.”
The best way to ensure that local establishments will continue to support this cause for years to come is to utilize them. So, if you’re in need of a haircut, or if you want to try one of these “pink drinks” over dinner, do so knowing that you will not only be benefitting yourself this month, but a much larger cause.