By Lorrie DeFrank
It took one spark to get her going.
After Veronica Glover met Pat Blanchard, she was fired up to transform her vision into a life-saving endeavor for women and men in Northeast Florida. A third-generation breast cancer survivor who lost her husband to colon cancer last year, Glover created SisterHermana Foundation, Inc., a non-profit whose mission is to educate the public about the signs, symptoms and risk factors of those two potential killers and to provide services and support for people in need of treatment.
Glover’s first step was to meet with Blanchard, director of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, who counseled her on local resources available to women entrepreneurs. “She had the passion and she took the initiative to do what she needed to do to get her dream off the ground and to get connected,” said Blanchard.
“I’d probably still be spinning my wheels had I not gone to Pat’s workshop,” said Glover, praising the value of the JWBC for area women who want to start or enhance a business or non-profit organization.
“A non-profit needs to be run like a business,” said Blanchard, who advised Glover to seek services of such resources as the Women’s Giving Alliance, Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida and the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, as well as the JWBC. “For her situation she is on the right path now, and hopefully she will circle back and take our programs like Marketing Matters.”
Still a start-up community outreach organization, SisterHermana (hermana means sister in Spanish) depends largely on the pockets of Glover, its founder and executive director, to fund its activities that include distributing educational material from programs like the First Coast News/Baptist Health Buddy Check 12 program and Screen for Life, National Colorectal Cancer Action Campaign.
But it captured a huge public awareness opportunity when it was accepted as a participant in One Spark, a globally recognized crowd-funding festival that connects people who have ideas with resources to make them realities. The third annual event held in early April in downtown Jacksonville set a record attendance of more than 320,000 people.
Selected by the Women’s Giving Alliance, which provides funding and support to improve lives of women and girls in Northeast Florida, SisterHermana’s “Taking it to the Streets” project earned a booth in One Spark’s Social Good category for its goal of saving lives by increasing breast and colon cancer awareness in demographics where mortality rates are highest.
“Her approach did it,” said Al Emerick, director, One Spark Creator Academy, which coaches applicants on how to better communicate and pitch their projects.
“One Spark was an awesome experience,” said Glover, who appreciated the exposure for her program and the validation that it is needed. Thrilled with receiving $448 in funding and more than two pages of names of potential volunteers, she said her team is already planning its strategy for next year’s One Spark.
Now that she has attained non-profit status and is acquiring business training, Glover plans to apply for grants and/or scholarships to enhance SisterHermana’s educational initiatives. Meanwhile, plans are under way for two events to support the foundation’s programs:
• A Salute to The Roaring Twenties, 7-11 p.m. April 24, Jacksonville Firefighter’s Banquet Hall, 618 Stockton St.: The gala will feature hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment and a silent auction. Proceeds will benefit the Horace N. Glover Sr. Memorial Scholarship Fund to help pay for activities for high school seniors whose parents have breast or colon cancer. For more information, access Eventbrite.com.
• “Taking it to the Streets” Health and Wellness Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., June 27, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Union Hall, 996 N. Liberty St.: The inaugural door-to-door walk to disseminate literature will coincide with the health fair in the Springfield area.
For more information, access sisterhermana.org or call (904) 480-2186.
About the author:
Lorrie DeFrank is a freelance writer whose stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines in Pennsylvania and Florida. She formerly was a reporter and managing editor of Public Opinion, a daily newspaper in Chambersburg, PA. Subsequent positions with the City of Jacksonville and University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville included writing columns, profiles and other stories for city and UF publications and websites. Lorrie is a member of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center’s Marketing and Communications Task Force.