Breaking Good News: Nonprofit Highlights

Spreading good news about nonprofits, charity and goodwill in our community.

Savannah community to unite in the fight against childhood cancer at the 8th annual Coaches for Curing Cancer 5K/10K Race

The Karl DeMasi Sports Report, in partnership with Coaches for Curing Cancer, is proud to announce the 8th Annual Coaches for Curing Cancer 5K/10K Walk/Run Race. This community event will be held on Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 a.m., and will begin and end at Howe2Run, located at 11 Gateway Blvd., Savannah, Ga.

Proceeds from the race will benefit CURE Childhood Cancer, a vital organization dedicated to supporting local children and families battling cancer. CURE Childhood Cancer provides financial and emotional assistance while also raising funds for critical research in pediatric oncology.

This family-friendly event offers a chance for runners and walkers of all ages to come together for a meaningful cause. Participants can choose between the 5K or 10K course, enjoying the scenic Savannah surroundings while making a difference in the lives of children with cancer.

“We are excited to bring back the Coaches for Curing Cancer race for another year,” said Coach Karl DeMasi, race organizer. "This race is a great way to show your support for CURE Childhood Cancer and their mission to help children and families battling this disease. We encourage everyone to come out and participate, whether you're a seasoned runner or just looking for a fun way to spend the morning."

Register online at REGISTRATION LINK by Saturday, June 1 to take advantage of the early bird rate of $25. Registration fees increase to $30 on Sunday, June 2 and $35 for race day registration and packet pick-up. An additional $5 fee applies for the 10K race. Packet pick-up will be available on Friday, June 7 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Howe 2 Run and on race morning starting at 6:30 a.m.

Businesses and organizations interested in sponsoring the Coaches for Curing Cancer 5K/10K Race can contact The Karl DeMasi Sports Report at [email protected] or by phone at 912-507-9158.

For additional information about the Coaches for Curing Cancer 5K and 10K Walk/Run Race or to sign up, click here.

NAUW honors Dr. Ruth Albright as Educator of the Year

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Courtesy of NAUW
Dr. Ruth Albright receives the Educator of the Year Award from the NAUW. Pictured from left to right: From left to right: Silvia Baines, Corresponding Secretary for NAUW., Dr. Ruth Albrightand Michelle Murphy, President of the Savannah Branch of the National Association ofUniversity Women.

The local chapter of the National Association of University Women (NAUW) proudly announces that Ruth Albright, Ed.D., has been named Educator of the Year. This award recognizes Dr. Albright’s outstanding dedication to teaching and her impactful work with young students in the Savannah community over the past six years.

“We are thrilled to recognize Dr. Ruth Albright’s exceptional contributions to education,” said Michelle Murphy, president of the local NAUW Chapter. “Her dedication to her students and her innovative approach to teaching music exemplify the qualities we seek to honor with this award.”

In 2018, Dr. Ruth Albright founded the Savannah Music Academy. Her passion for education and music has inspired countless students, aged 4 to 17, through her group piano classes. Her commitment to nurturing young talent and fostering a love for music has made a significant difference in the lives of her students and their families.

She is a seasoned piano educator with over 20 years of experience in both public schools and private instruction. Dr. Albright’s approach ensures that from the very first lesson, students are performing in front of their peers, effectively helping them conquer stage fright early on. Her lessons are rooted in research that highlights the myriad benefits of music education, including enhanced memory, improved mathematical skills, and boost self-confidence.

The award ceremony took place on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at 11:00 AM at Carey Hilliard’s Banquet Facility. NAUW also recognized Mary Osborne for the Humanitarian Award, The Woman of the Year Award went to Michelle R. Murphy, The President’s Award went to Kathy Middleton and The Community Service Award went to Sonya Jackson, Tax Commissioner. Three high school seniors also received scholarships.

Healthy Savannah’s Community Health Advocates share personal stories in promoting awareness of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination equity to prevent certain cancers

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Courtesy of Healthy Savannah
Kim Jackson-Allen is the wellness coordinator for the Savannah-Chatham School System and was one of 13 participants who completed Healthy Savannanh’s community health advocate (CHA) training held in May. Here, she looks through her new toolkit containing information and resources on the benefits of immunization in general and, specifically, the HPV vaccine in preventing certain cancers.

If you had the power to prevent certain cancers in your family members, would you?

That’s the question Healthy Savannah is asking in a new outreach campaign intended to promote awareness and acceptance of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine vaccine in Savannah’s Black and Hispanic communities.

Cervical cancer rates in Georgia currently average about 8 per 100,000 women, slightly higher than the national average but incidence rates in some Georgia counties are even higher. Among Black women, mortality rates are almost 1.5x as high as White women.

Under a new HPV Vaccination Equity Initiative grant bestowed in February by CHC: Creating Healthier Communities, Healthy Savannah has now expanded its award-winning Community Health Advocate (CHA) program to include the benefits of HPV vaccination. The program, established in 2021 to promote awareness, acceptance and acceptance of the COVID-19 vaccine, has since trained more than 80 CHAs who share science-based information and resources about all adult vaccines with people in their neighborhoods, jobs, schools, and at sporting events.

Since 2018, Healthy Savannah has been at the forefront of health equity initiatives as co-administrator of two five-year collaborative Racial & Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grants totaling $8.5 million. The goals of the first initiative were to improve access to nutritious food, develop systemic change to create safe places for physical activity, and promote easy access to local resources. The second initiative added breastfeeding and adult immunizations and continues to emphasize the importance of policy, systems, and environmental change toward health equity.

“Healthy Savannah’s goal with this new initiative is to bring about a culture of acceptance of the HPV vaccine in Savannah’s priority communities,” said Dr. Elsie Smalls, operations manager. “Research has shown that if the rate were to rise to 90% or better, HPV-related cervical cancer could be drastically reduced.”

After hosting a listening session on April 18, Healthy Savannah invited current, former and prospective CHAs to a training session on May 2. In the weeks following, 13 completed the training requirements and are now serving in their communities to share information about the benefits of the HPV vaccine in preventing certain cancers.

“My family experienced the loss of a loved one due to HPV,” said Charice Stroud, who was originally trained as a CHA under the COVID-19 program and returned for HPV Vaccination Equity training in May. “My hope is to help other families avoid that pain by sharing my story along with the good news that this vaccine can prevent certain cancers.”

“As a social worker, I have been fortunate to develop a better understanding of the HPV vaccine through my training as a CHA,” said Leslie Walker, a social worker with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System who had also participated in the initial program. “I want every parent to know they have the power to give this protection from certain cancers to their children.”

The CHAs are also helping connect community members, many of whom may be uninsured and underinsured, to free or low-cost programs offering HPV vaccines, which help protect individuals ages 9 to 45 against certain cancers including cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal and oral.

Smalls recommends consulting with your physician about the recommended HPV vaccine. Several Chatham County clinics offer no-cost vaccines or can help the underinsured and uninsured connect with resources. They include Coastal Health District’s Eisenhower Clinic, J. C. Lewis Primary Health Care and Curtis V Cooper Primary Health Care. For more information, visit https://healthysavannah.org/our-programs/adult-immunization/hpv/ or visit the online HERO database at herohelpme.com, click on “health care,” and select “low-cost medical services.

Healthy Savannah is already planning another round of listening and training sessions in the months ahead. After completing the training, CHAs will receive a $600 incentive for performing community outreach activities to increase access and awareness and share information about the benefits of the HPV vaccine.

For more information about the CHA program or to attend a future listening or training session, visit healthysavannah.org/2021/07/09/community-advocate-program/. For more information about the HPV Vaccination Equity Initiative, email Patricia Merritt, program coordinator, at [email protected].

Help First Responder families by purchasing a boston butt this July 4 to support 200 Club

The 200 Club is holding its annual Fourth of July Boston Butt sale to benefit the families of fallen first responders this summer. The nonprofit organization has once again expanded the sale to reach both Chatham and Bryan County, with placed orders available for pick-up in

Savannah, Richmond Hill, and Pembroke. Orders are now open through June 28, with pickup ranging from Tuesday, July 2 to Wednesday, July 3.

These delicious, fully cooked Boston butts are only $40 and are smoked to perfection by the best pit masters in the area, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff John T. Wilcher. Orders of 20 or more can be delivered upon request in Chatham County. All proceeds from this event directly support the families served by the 200 Club, which has provided over $3.8 million to support 100 families of fallen and critically injured first responders in the 20 counties the 200 Club serves.

“The annual Boston Butt sale is one of our most anticipated events of the year, and we are excited to continue working with Chatham and Bryan County this year to provide the best smoked Boston butts in the area. This sale helps raise vital funds that directly help our mission to provide for our fallen heroes’ families,” said 200 Club President and CEO Mark Dana. “We want to extend a special thank you to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and Bryan County Sheriff’s Office for hosting our pick-ups, just in time

for the community to enjoy a Boston butt over the 4th of July holiday, all while serving those who have served us.”

The 200 Club is a 501(c) (3) organization who “cares for those who care for us” by providing for the surviving spouses and dependents of first responders who have lost their lives or sustain critical injuries in the line of duty. The organization serves a 20-county area within Georgia and South Carolina. All proceeds from this event will directly support the families of fallen heroes. The 200 Club provides significant financial assistance to the surviving family members and provides a fully paid college education – including tuition, room and board, textbooks, and a computer – to a fallen first responder’s children and spouse.

To place your Boston Butt order, go to our200club.com/bostonbutts/. For more information, go to our200club.com, call 912-721-4418 or email i[email protected].

Rotary Club of Savannah announces Captain Lakshman as 2024-25 President-Elect and Board of Directors

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Courtesy of Rotary Club of Savannah
Captain Lakshman

The Rotary Club of Savannah proudly announces Captain Lakshman as its 110th president. A distinguished maritime professional with a rich history of experience and leadership, Captain Lakshman brings a wealth of expertise and a strong commitment to community service to his new role.

On June 24, the gavel will be passed to Lakshman by outgoing president, Eddie DeLoach, The ceremony will take place at the DeSoto on Liberty Street at 12:30 p.m.

The club will also install 2024-2025, officers, Secretary/Treasurer-Elect Robert Grant, and Sergeant at Arms-Elect Anita Hagin, and welcome the 2024-25 Board of Directors. They are Eddie Culver, Pete Hoffman, Bill Kelso, Roger Moss, David Paddison, Paul Pressly, David Rosenblum, Camille Russo, Philip Solomons, Cecilia Turner, Tim Walmsley and Matt West.

Captain Lakshman’s life is marked by a dynamic blend of maritime expertise, entrepreneurial success, community leadership, and a strong family foundation. A 1982 graduate of the Indian Merchant Marine Academy, he spent 17 years navigating the high seas, notably as Chief Mate during the 1991 Perfect Storm on the M.V Eagle, a vessel immortalized in Sebastian Junger’s book.

Settling in Savannah, Capt. Lakshman transitioned into consultancy, founding Viksniks Consultants for Risk Management in the maritime sector. Simultaneously, Viksniks Business Solutions emerged, specializing in medical scribing and digitizing records for healthcare and legal practices, showcasing his versatility in business.

Committed to community service, Capt. Lakshman serves as a Commissioner of the Savannah Pilotage Commission and on the Board of Trustees at the Savannah Country Day School.

His role as the incoming president of the Rotary Club of Savannah underscores his dedication to community development.

“I am deeply honored to serve as the president of the Rotary Club of Savannah. This role is a unique opportunity to continue our club’s legacy of service and community engagement. I am committed to fostering growth, collaboration, and positive change within our community. Together, we will navigate new challenges and seize opportunities to make a lasting impact. I look forward to working with our dedicated members to uphold the values of Rotary and contribute meaningfully to the betterment of Savannah.” said Lakshman.

Beyond professional achievements, family plays a pivotal role in Capt. Lakshman’s life. Celebrating 32 years of marriage to Kay, they have two accomplished sons. Vihan, continuing the family’s pursuit of excellence, is set to pursue a Ph.D. at MIT. Meanwhile, Nivan is carving a path in medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, embodying the family’s commitment to contributing to healthcare.

The Lakshman family stands as a testament to resilience, unity, and shared values. Captain Lakshman’s ability to balance a thriving career, community engagement, and a supportive family exemplifies his unwavering determination and adaptability. From navigating stormy seas to steering diverse professional landscapes, Capt. Lakshman’s journey reflects a life rich in accomplishments, relationships, and a commitment to making a positive impact.