Seventh-day Adventist employees at the Inter-American Division (IAD) headquarters in Miami, Florida, United States, took time away from their desks to wave in drivers and onlookers nearby in celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The two dozen women wore special t-shirts and passed out gift bags with treats, brochures on breast cancer information and offered prayers on Oct. 18.
The activity was part of showing solidarity for one of the staff members at the office who has been undergoing treatment for the disease, said Jainie Pita, human resources director at the IAD and one of the organizers of the initiative.
“It was so wonderful to be able to put work aside and share with our office community about breast cancer awareness,” said Pita. “Many of us know someone who has breast cancer or has gone through it or has relatives or friends with the disease, so it was an activity that was embraced by so many in the office.”
“We passed out more than 175 bags and prayed with many of those who stopped by,” said Pita.
Reaching Out to the Community
The initiative was the first community outreach planned in collaboration with the Women’s Ministries and Health Ministries departments.
“One of the things we as women’s ministries strive for is caring for one another, supporting one another and being there for the good, the bad and the ugly,” said Dinorah Rivera, Women’s Ministries director for the church in Inter-America. Last year she organized a similar activity for the IAD staff, but it was important to branch out into the surrounding community this year.
“We have lost many sisters across our IAD territory to this illness, and the fact that it is so prevalent in almost every family needs to move us into reaching out more as Christians,” said Rivera, who spoke and prayed with many women who drove in and walked over from the nearby medical building.
According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is one of the main causes of death among women 30 years and older, pointed out Belkis Archbold, health ministries director for the church in Inter-America.
“There are approximately 252,710 new diagnosed cases of breast cancer every year in the United States, so it is very important to remind women to be vigilant about the disease,” said Archbold. “The brochure passed out with each gift included instructions on how to do a self-examination and the importance of an annual breast cancer screening such as a mammogram.”
Many men and women stopped by and asked for prayers for themselves and their loved ones, added Archbold.
Margaret Daniel, who works in vice presidency at the IAD, went with a few other staff members to the mall nearby. She was surprised to see how so many people welcomed prayer. “One lady told us that her niece was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and she was happy to have us pray for her,” said Margaret. They also prayed for her pregnant daughter who is scheduled to deliver in a few weeks, said Daniel.
Daniel connected with another person who was very emotional and started to cry because her mother died from cancer. “I found that no one refused a prayer when we offered.”
“The smiles on the faces and the expressions of appreciation show us that simple actions can have a profound effect on individuals,” added Daniel.
It’s the same for Celine Ureña, who works in the IAD treasury department. Ureña said she was taken aback by how many cars stopped. Many applauded the breast cancer awareness efforts as she and others walked near a traffic light by the mall.
“One woman named Rosa in her early 30s immediately stopped and told us she was on her way to her first doctor’s appointment after being diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Celine. “She showed me all her medical papers and pointed to her 18-month old baby in the back seat, and shed some emotional tears,” said Celine. “That touched me, and we exchanged numbers to keep connected through this process.” Celine said they texted days later and said she would continue to pray for her and keep checking on her progress.
Many women left their names on a special list during the activity, said Pita. Staff members will continue to pray for those women, their family members and friends affected by breast cancer, she added.
“We will be working on a special Christmas project for children in need soon and are thinking of other projects that we can line up to benefit our surrounding community at the office,” said Pita. “Many can drive by and see Seventh-day Adventists on our main sign outside, but showing kindness and hope speaks louder about who we are and who we believe in.”