Alicia Baines was inspired to start Promises of Hope by the people in her community: “I recognized that my community is in need,” she recalls. “People are afraid to talk about cancer. It’s not until someone passes away that they realize they probably should have done more.”
Promises of Hope is dedicated to serving Prince George’s County, Maryland—an area outside of Washington, DC, that is known for health disparities. Most diagnoses of ovarian cancer in the county are in advanced stages. “The statistics are not so great in that county,” says Alicia. “Especially in the minority community, there’s a lot of disparities, people who are uninsured. I wanted to change that.”
Alicia’s first exposure to cancer was when her grandmother passed away from the disease. “Since I was a little girl, my grandmother had been sick, in and out of the hospital. One day my mother came home and told me my grandmother wouldn’t be coming back.” Her family didn’t talk about what had happened, but Alicia learned a few years later that her grandmother had had colon cancer. Over the next few years, she lost other relatives to lung cancer and ovarian cancer. These losses inspired Alicia to start a nonprofit dedicated to educating and supporting her community.
Part of the mission at Promises of Hope is to educate women and men in Prince George’s County about HIV/AIDS, gynecologic cancers (including ovarian cancer) and breast cancer. Alicia and her fellow volunteers regularly attend local health fairs to talk about these issues. The Promises of Hope website also shares information on health topics and details about local support groups dedicated to specific health issues.
The organization also serves women and men affected by cancer. “Right now we’re doing a wig drive for women in the area,” says Alicia. They hope to collect 100 wigs from June 1 to August 31, which will be donated to local women who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or radiation. In addition, Promises of Hope is trying to set up a transportation service to help women get to medical appointments.
Promises of Hope also spotlights survivor stories and provides one-on-one support. “We’re looking for survivors to share their stories and help get the word out,” Alicia says. “If you just need to call and talk, I will personally take phone calls.”
Alicia first came across the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance when she was researching how to start her own organization. She called the office for permission to use an ovarian cancer infographic and spoke with the Alliance staff about the Partner Member program. “I find it wonderful,” she says. “I’ve benefited greatly from being able to reach out to other organizations and find out what they’re doing in the area.”
To learn more about Promises of Hope, visit http://www.mypromisesofhope.org