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Community Outreach Advocacy - pg 4

A New Model of Community Outreach Advocacy

Community Outreach Advocates: Support

When people think of community advocates, they most often think of the support they provide. This is the traditional role of community advocates and will continue to remain critically important.

What can these advocates do?

One of the most impactful ways community outreach advocates can become involved is in the area of support. This can include but not be limited to providing:

  • Medical system navigation
  • Education and financial support
  • Emotional support
  • Spiritual support

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Our healthcare system is very difficult to learn to navigate. One way community outreach advocates can help is to assist patients navigate through the system:

  • They can help with information about insurance or perhaps finding a provider that takes the patients insurance, thereby limiting the amount of extra charges the patient may need to pay.
  • Or perhaps the advocate will assist in finding a provider that is familiar with the language of the patient, or the culture of the patient and is aware of the myths and misconceptions that culture holds.

Some advocates may focus on the family of the patient, ensuring they understand the needs of the patient and the roles that they, as family members, need to play in order to make their family be as functional as possible through the cancer experience.

Some community advocates facilitate support groups and maintain high levels of provider and patient information.

Why is it important?

Community advocacy is personal in that it is one-on-one between the patient and the advocate, so by its very nature, each encounter is different. The focus is on meeting each persons needs.

Community outreach advocates can mean the difference between a patient being able to get to treatment and finish their treatment and thereby hopefully having a positive outcome.


Examples of how community outreach advocates can help with regard to support:

  1. Advocates can help coordinate community services.
    • A small non-profit created a peer-to-peer program for newly diagnosed patients to match them with a patient who is out of treatment just to help coordinate services.
  2. Advocates can empower patients by giving them a list of questions to ask their doctors or tips to help them through treatment.
    • Many of these doctor question lists are available from well-known institutions and serve as a starting point for patient doctor discussions.
  3. Advocates can give patients a list of resources in the community for support and information.
    • One group created a resource guide for their community and then found a printer that would print it for free.
  4. Advocates can facilitate a peer support group.
    • One young woman started a support group in her church that has been very successful.
  5. Advocates can provide inspirational messages in the form or quotes, poems, songs and stories.
    • Several women have combined their stories into a book to encourage others.
  6. Advocates can help children of parents affected by cancer.
    • One young man whose mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer formed a support group for their children.

Community Outreach Advocates: Fundraising

Fundraising may not be something you would think of when you think of community outreach advocates, but fundraising is an important aspect of advocacy and community involvement.

Much of the work that is done in the area or research, education and support would not be done if it were not for advocates raising funds to provide:

HELP, Donations Can Image
  • Programs that assist the patient and their families.
  • Research funding to treat patients more effectively.
What can these advocates do?

Advocates often act as the face of cancer. They tell their stories, which encourages people to donate to their cause.

  • They encourage their friends and colleagues to donate or get involved in an event or fundraising project.
  • They inform funders and the community about the difference their contributions can make.
  • They also help to decide where the fundraising dollars should go and to ensure that the agency doing the fundraising is being financially prudent.
Why is it important?

An advocate who has asked their family, friends and co-workers to participate in fundraising is going to help insure those dollars are well spent.

Advocates who are passionate about a cause will have more energy and enthusiasm and will go the extra mile to ensure the event is successful.

Examples of how community outreach advocates can help with regard to fundraising:

  • A local non-profit that assists cancer patients with housing, food and transportation is funded by a thrift store.
    • A support group does annual clothing drives to gather items for the thrift store.
  • National fundraising events help fund local programs.
    • Several patient support groups form teams to raise funds for these events.
  • A power-of-10 fundraiser:
    • A support group organized a power-of-10 email program that asked everyone to contribute a small amount and then ask 10 others to do the same.
  • Cookbook sales:
    • A community outreach advocate asked members of her community to submit their favorite ethnic recipe, and then put together a cookbook that was sold to raise funds to help members of their community.


Community Outreach Advocates: Political

The goal of political advocacy is to impact public policy through lobbying. This can be at the state and/or federal level. Advocates can also serve on advisory committees for their state cancer action plan or other groups that make recommendation at either the state or local level.

What can these advocates do?

When advocates visit legislators, whether it is in their local or state communities or in Washington, they hold a lot of power, because they are the keeper of their vote.

Each vote is important to a legislator. Not only is each vote important but advocate visits with a legislator has the ability to influence other legislatures.

  • Community outreach advocates usually speak for the community they represent and can therefore get a legislator to listen to their concerns.
Why is it important?

If legislators are not hearing the voice of the community, they may be influenced by other voices that do not actually benefit the community members.

Examples of how community outreach advocates can help with regard to political involvement:

  • Advocates can advocate for polices that will help their communities with issues that are specific to that community.
    • Currently many advocates are educating their legislators about the issue of oral chemotherapy and infusion therapy and how insurance company pay or do not pay for this type of treatment.
  • Advocates in some states have gotten their states to allow cancer license plates and the proceeds are used to fund underserved patient populations.
    • Some license plates are specific for breast cancer, others are for all cancers.
  • Advocates all over the country continue to encourage the federal government to continue to fund the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
    • There is a push to keep this program in place until alternative insurance coverage is available.



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