It’s fitting that this month—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—marks Hillary Rutter’s 20th anniversary as director of the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program. The program is the first program of its kind in New York State and serves more than 10,000 people each year through its hotline as well as counseling services, educational programs and community outreach initiatives. Rutter spoke about her role and what it means to her and the community.
What drew you to work for the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program?
Prior to working at Adelphi I was the director of social work at a hospital and referred all of my breast cancer patients to the Adelphi Hotline because of its excellent reputation. When I saw that the director’s position was available I felt compelled to apply.
How many volunteers do you work with annually?
We have about 100 extraordinary volunteers who work with our program. Some of them have been with us for 20 to 30 years.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Knowing that you can make a difference by helping women get through one of the worst times in their lives with compassion and dignity.
What is the most challenging part?
Continuing to maintain and increase funding to support the free services that we provide.
What gets you through the day?
Working with an incredible staff and a wonderful group of volunteers.
How has the hotline changed over time?
We have continued to expand and develop new projects to meet the needs of the breast cancer community. We work hard to adapt to the times and keep up with new technology and offer services like an online chat that we believe people are looking for.
What developments are you most proud of?
I am very proud of our initiatives that meet the needs of underserved women who might not have access to the services and medical care that they deserve. Two of our projects, Sisters United in Health and our Counseling and Patient Navigation program at Nassau University Medical Center provide services to the most vulnerable women who are poor, undocumented, and non-English speaking. We provide educational, counseling and concrete services so that these women can be screened and access medical care.
What are some upcoming events that people should know about?
Our Celebration of Survivorship on October 25, 2016, is an inspirational evening where a panel of breast cancer survivors share their stories. Creative Cups, which will be held on March 16, 2017, is our big fundraising event where pieces of art constructed from a simple bra are displayed and auctioned off, celebrating the lives of those who have coped with breast cancer. It is a night of fun, food, drink, music and art.