The founders of the coalition are Barbara Masry and Linda Ronn. The organization’s current leader, Laura Weinberg, has been president of GNBCC since 2001. GNBCC’s focus for the past decade has been on prevention of breast cancer through educational outreaches and advocacy. While we spread the word on prevention in order to protect future generations, we currently assist women and men who are newly diagnosed. Our board which meets on a monthly basis consists of nine members: Laura Weinberg, Lisa Levine, Randa Maher, Colette Thaw, Fern Rogers, Pamela Fogel, Mindy Gordon and Gloria Gersman. We are a community- based grassroots organization and we have established partnerships with breast cancer and environmental groups nationwide. Our programs and accomplishments include:
Lend a Helping Hand Program: For women and men who have been newly diagnosed with breast cancer this program helps to alleviate some of the stresses and demands associated with post breast cancer surgery and treatment. GNBCC provides funding for the chores of daily living such as house cleaning, food preparation, child care and transportation to doctors after being diagnosed, after surgery and during treatment. We also offer assistance for the purchase of wigs and prostheses.
Prevention is the Cure : Our coalition has educated hundreds of audiences on Long Island, in New York State and recently at the University of Cincinnati on environmental links to breast cancer, the Precautionary Principle, and safer alternatives to toxins in our environment. We also provide presentations on better nutrition and meal preparations. Locally, we have promoted a Safe Lawn/Clean Water program which advises on safer alternatives to using toxic pesticides. We are regularly in contact with our local water and pollution control departments to make sure that certain chemicals are screened for and removed through a filtration process. Through our book donation program we have donated over 100 books on environmental toxins, breast cancer prevention and nutrition to the four Great Neck Public Libraries and to the Great Neck Public School System.
Students & Scientists Breast Cancer/Environment Research Program: Recognizing that environmental links to breast cancer was not included in high school curricula in the Town of North Hempstead and throughout Long Island, the GNBCC founded and developed the Students & Scientists Breast Cancer/Environment Research Program in 2005. After attending numerous breast cancer/environment conferences, reviewing studies and speaking in depth to researchers, we found it critical that the next generation of young people learn about the connection between environment and breast health. In turn, these young adults become the next generation of scientists and protectors of public health and our environment and also leaders in educating their peers and communities on risk reduction through lessening exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer.
This educational program provides high school students with a rare opportunity to be mentored by world-renowned breast cancer and environmental researchers while they learn sophisticated laboratory procedures in a state-of-the-art lab. Including summer 2016, GNBCC will have provided for 52 high school internships in partnership with five Nassau County high schools. Our latest partnership is with the United Nations International School in New York City. The ten research facilities that GNBCC has sent students to are: Tufts University School of Medicine, Yale University School of Public Health, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York University Poly Tech, Rensselaer Poly Tech Institute (RPI), Stony Brook University ,Silent Spring Institute, Warner Babcock Institute and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. As an additional learning experience, we have offered all of our students the option of being chaperoned by our coalition to national breast cancer conferences where they have been given the opportunity to display a poster of their summer research project. Our program has served as a model for other breast cancer coalitions, including the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition and the Manhasset Coalition Against Breast Cancer.
New York State Health Research Science Board: Randa Maher, GNBCC Vice President for Advocacy, was appointed in 2016 by Governor Cuomo to the New York State Health Research Science Board (HRSB) after being recommended by Senator Jack Martins. As a voting member on the HRSB, Ms. Maher has a vote on the allocation of funding for breast cancer research in New York State.
Long Island Breast Cancer Network: GNBCC President, Laura Weinberg, Co-Chaired this network with advocates Barbara Balaban and Mary Joan Shea for six years. This network was formed in the mid-1990s as a result of the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.
New York State Breast Cancer Network (NYSBCN): GNBCC is a proud member of the NYSBCN and has been on its board since 2001. We have taken an active role on the network’s Environmental Committee and have achieved a Ban on Bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s products, a New York State Green Purchasing Act, New York State Adoption of 85 Chemicals List to avoid when purchasing products and a 48-Hour Neighbor Notification law on pesticide applications. At several annual breast cancer Advocacy Day outreaches we have made public presentations. On behalf of the Network, GNBCC served for one year on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment Committee on Alternatives to BPA in Cash Receipts.
GNBCC Local Advocacy: GNBCC has worked with local Long Island legislators on a myriad of issues pertaining to a safer environment. Partnering with HBCAC we were instrumental in the passage of Suffolk County’s ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups which was first in the nation. We supported the 24 -hour public notification of aerial and truck spraying of pesticides for West Nile Virus and educated the public on how to reduce exposure to mosquitoes. We served on the Town of North Hempstead’s Ecological Commission for five years. We partnered with the Great Neck School District through the removal of a cell phone tower on one school and have been advisors on other school district environmental issues.
Breast Cancer & Environment Research Project (BCERP- funded by the NIEHS and NCI): Partnership with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, HBCAC and breast cancer sister groups throughout the country. Through the Windows of Susceptibility Project within the BCERP, we partnered with HBCAC on translating the research of Mount Sinai researchers, Susan Teitelbaum, PhD and Jia Chen, Sc.D. This was achieved through local and national presentations, newspaper articles, updating our websites and social media.
Cincinnati BCERP: Through the Cincinnati Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program we were invited to speak with HBCAC at their annual “Looking Upstream for Environmental Links to Breast Cancer” program. We presented at the University of Cincinnati on “Community Advocacy: Steps to Success”.
Advocates Mentoring Advocates: Through an opportunity grant by the NIEHS and partnering with Principal Investigators Barbara Brenner and Mary Wolff at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Witness Project of Harlem and HBCAC, we assisted in the organization and implementation of six workshops to educate and mentor members of the Witness Project of Harlem. We presented two out of the six workshops on “Toxic Environmental Exposures in Consumer Products” and “Steps for Success in Policy Reform”.
Awards: The League of Women Voters of Great Neck/2008, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region2 “Environmental Quality Award”/ 2010