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Mid-Continent Public Library
Innovation SummaryMid-Continent Public Library’s desire to add a community aspect to its support of those affected by breast cancer resulted in the development of Pink Parties. These parties brought together the elements of education, community, and support to cultivate life-changing experiences.
As a resource center for many newly diagnosed cancer patients, as well as the patients’ friends and families, MCPL wanted to find a way to serve a connective and supportive role beyond that which we provide through our materials. Libraries necessarily have a very cautious relationship with medicine and medical information. However, MCPL believed there was room to reach out to those who need support and to actively encourage the gathering of quality information by those affected. The Library saw a need for community every bit as strong as the need for answers.
Pink Parties were developed as a way to provide information, community, and support around the issue of breast cancer. Party participants receive information through the many partners the Library recruits for the event. Cancer foundations, hospitals, medical practitioners, and relevant local businesses set up tables in the Library to discuss issues related to the physical, psychological, and emotional challenges presented by breast cancer. One such presenter, the R.A. Bloch Cancer Foundation offered full-length books such as “Fighting Cancer” and “Guide for Cancer Supporters” at no cost to event attendees. Community is added through activities and games such as Bunco and themed refreshments such as pink cupcakes. Support is the most important element of the Pink Party. The party theme is “Courage to Live, Strength to Fight, Love to Give, Pink for Life,” and the bonding opportunity for those involved means a chance for those affected to share with others who understand.
Pink Parties started in 2010 with 96 attendees. In 2011, the attendance grew to 247. However, the true picture of the impact of these events is provided through the stories of those in attendance. One information partner related “[One woman was] newly diagnosed and currently going through chemo. It took everything she had to be at the event. You would think that riding in a car and walking 50 feet into the building would not be a big deal. To her, it was a major feat. As I watched her that night, I kept expecting her to ask her friend to take her home. But she stayed. It was so sweet to see the other women reach out to her, comfort her, and include her in the different activities… That is the purpose of the Pink Party: to reach out, touch lives, and understand.” Another attendee, a cancer patient, put it in a way that truly gives weight to the events, “I’d reached a point in my life where I really didn’t care if I lived anymore. I was feeling so down. I was done. Then I came to the Pink Party and felt I had a reason to go on… a reason to live.”