Breast Cancer Summit

Of the 2.6 million women currently living with breast cancer in this country, 1 million don’t even know they have the disease. Nearly 50,000 American women will die of breast cancer this year; and, according to Healthpartners — a community-based, volunteer coalition of individuals and organizations in Buncombe County — the breast-cancer mortality rate in Buncombe exceeds those of the state, the country, and even the rest of western North Carolina.

That’s why Healthpartners is orchestrating a Breast Cancer Summit in Asheville, Sept. 21 through Oct. 26. The summit will feature a host of activities and events, including a MAHEC-sponsored, regionwide conference on breast cancer for health-care professionals; “The Face of Breast Cancer,” a photographic essay to be displayed in the Asheville Mall’s South Gallery; a candlelight vigil for cancer survivors; a free public-education program, hosted by Community Cancer Education, Inc.; and more.

“The Face of Breast Cancer” is a memorial exhibit that pays tribute to 84 women, reflecting the divergent ages, ethnic backgrounds and professional lives of some of those who have died of breast cancer. Exhibit visitors are encouraged to place photographs of their loved ones and friends who have died of breast cancer on a special “collage” panel that travels with the exhibit. It will be on display from Sept. 22 to Oct. 4.

The candlelight vigil — to be held on Friday, Sept. 25 at the First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville — will be part of a nationwide evening of vigils supporting the March on Washington for cancer research, scheduled for the following day. The public-education program — a lecture and open forum facilitated by P. Kelly Marcom, M.D., of Duke University — will focus on the prevention, detection, treatment and genetic linkage of breast cancer. The lecture will be given at Pack Place on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. Those attending will be offered a free cancer-risk assessment.

For more information about the summit, including the photographic essay, call Melanie Parks at 274-6161. For more on the candlelight vigil, call Morgan Daven at 254-6931. For info on the breast-cancer lecture, call Danielle Wild at 253-7077.

Trashing the national Christmas tree

Quality Forward, Buncombe County’s Keep America Beautiful volunteer organization, invites you to take part in sending a message to Washington — that North Carolina’s tremendous natural resources are being used and recycled wisely and appropriately. Using materials that would ordinarily end up in a landfill, the folks at Quality Forward have been making ornaments that they hope will hang on the national Christmas tree. The ornaments are on display at the group’s office (29 Page Ave.), and Quality Forward invites you to make your own ornament out of “trash” and send it along with the rest.

“Despite tremendous increases in source reduction and recycling,” states a Quality Forward press release, “North Carolina citizens are wasting more natural resources than ever before. We would like to see more industry and governmental efforts made to move our economy from a linear (wasteful) model into a more cyclical (resource-conserving) one.”

In other Quality Forward news, the group recently presented its awards for outstanding environmental improvements at its annual meeting in the Haywood Park Atrium. Mary Jane Hunter and her committee of Fairview residents won the Quality Forward Hall of Fame Award for their efforts to have the new Highway 74 designated the Drover’s Road Scenic Byway. The group’s efforts ensured that attractive landscaping will be part of new construction projects; further efforts are encouraging reduced signage along the road, and a new library in the community.

An Environmental Excellence Award was presented to Hart Funeral Service for outstanding landscaping and community service. Owner Daryl Hart has taken a very active role in the cleanup of the Eagle/Market Street neighborhood and has worked on several other improvement projects, according to a Quality Forward press release.

The Juvenile Evaluation Center in Swannannoa received an Environmental Excellence Award for restoring an old orchard on the property and implementing a horticulture program for residents. Instructor Lonnie Johnson works with the young inmates as they prune trees and garden the several-acre plot. And the Quality Forward Volunteer of the Year is Laura Bennett, recycling coordinator for the Grove Park Inn. Among other things, she has worked with restaurants and other businesses throughout Buncombe County to help them start their own recycling programs.

For more information on decorating the national Christmas tree, call Laura Bennett at 252-2711. To learn more about Quality Forward, contact Susan Roderick at 254-1776.

Bug Day

For those of us who can’t get enough bugs — and who can’t? — the WNC Nature Center will celebrate “Bug Day” on Saturday, Sept. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual event aims to help the public better understand the importance of insects, both in the ecology of our area as well as their direct benefits to us.

“Bug stations” will include many different types of unusual insects, including stinging bugs, moths, butterflies, honeybees and more. The world’s largest cockroach will be there, and in the “Bug Cafe,” samples of various tasty treats prepared with bugs will be available. The celebration will be B.Y.O.B (Bring Your Own Bug); visitors accompanied by a bug in a jar or other suitable container will be admitted for half-price. There will also be a “Build a Bug” contest for individuals and groups — build your own unique bug, and perhaps you’ll win a prize.

For details about the WNC Nature Center, Bug Day or specific contests, call 298-5600.

New director at WNC AIDS Project

The Western North Carolina AIDS Project recently named Leslie Burnside of Hickory as its new executive director. She has served as an advocate for people with AIDS through the Leadership Foothills Area Alliance, as well as through her service on the board of the Ryan White Consortium of Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties. Burnside recently led the Families for Kids initiative of the Catawba County Department of Social Services. Under her leadership, notes a Western North Carolina AIDS Project press release, the agency substantially reduced its foster-care population and expanded its adoption services. She has also served as executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Catawba County.

The WNC AIDS Project is an independent, nonprofit agency supported by the United Way, federal and state grants, and the community. The agency provides direct services to people with HIV/AIDS and their families, as well as prevention education.

To find out more, or to volunteer, call 252-7489, or (800) 346-3731. Or visit their Web site at:

To your health

The Buncombe County Medical Society’s Project Access has been chosen as a finalist in the 1998 Innovations in American Government awards program.

The program helps low-income, Buncombe County residents gain access to physicians, specialists and other high-quality medical care. Each year, the Society leverages more than $3.5 million worth of medical services donated by the private sector, providing physician care, medications, inpatient and outpatient hospital service and patient referrals, coordinating health care for more than 85 percent of the county’s uninsured, low-income citizens. Under a contract with Buncombe County, the Medical Society oversees the program and recruits and retains physician volunteers.

In October, Project Access representatives will travel to Washington, D.C., to present their credentials to the Innovations program’s National Selection Committee, which will choose 10 winning programs in a public competition. The committee — chaired by David Gergen, editor-at-large of U.S. News & World Report, and a former adviser to four presidents — is composed of former elected officials, private-sector leaders and journalists. Another North Carolina initiative also ranks among the finalists: the Smart Start program, which provides critical-care services for children from birth to age 5.

For more information, call Jill Thompson at 250-4107.

— collocationally compiled by Paul Schattel

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