For the girls

For the girls

The Official Blog of Here for the girls

, June 24, 2016 | More Post by

Beyond Boobs! is one big happy family, but it is also a business. In addition to a host of amazing volunteers, BB! has been blessed with a group of talented, hardworking staff members who are truly the backbone of the organization. Because of their love and dedication, we are able to continue our mission of providing encouragement and support to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Staff members work behind the scenes to make sure all of our events run smoothly, and they take care of the millions of not-so-sexy, but just as valuable, details of running a business. Most important, they are there for our Boobers!, helping them live life with an exclamation point!

We share so much of our lives with our staff. Spending time with these amazing women and getting to know them and their families is a joy. And now it is our great privilege to introduce them to you. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature profiles of our staff members – the women behind the boobs.

jenn haynesJenn Haynes, owner of A-One Mobile Bookkeeping, handles all of the finances for Beyond Boobs!, from tallying donations to paying bills. BB! has been one of Jenn’s clients since December 2013. She spends about 10 hours every week at BB! headquarters and shares an office with Managing Director Chris Schwab.

Jenn is also a proud supporter of the group. She is a B Cup Sponsor for A Calendar to Live By 2017, and in the past has purchased tickets for the BB! Mustang raffle, as well as the annual Pink Carpet Gala.

“I love the people at Beyond Boobs!,” Jenn said. “They do very important work and offer an invaluable service to the community.

In addition to running A-One Mobile Bookkeeping, Jenn is co-owner of Work Nimbly, a co-working space in Williamsburg. Jenn and Paul, her husband of nine years, live in Williamsburg. They are the proud parents of two fur babies – Maybell, an eight-year-old goldendoodle, and Pixie, a border collie/corgi mix.

, June 22, 2016 | More Post by

Beyond Boobs! is one big happy family, but it is also a business. In addition to a host of amazing volunteers, BB! has been blessed with a group of talented, hardworking staff members who are truly the backbone of the organization. Because of their love and dedication, we are able to continue our mission of providing encouragement and support to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Staff members work behind the scenes to make sure all of our events run smoothly, and they take care of the millions of not-so-sexy, but just as valuable, details of running a business. Most important, they are there for our Boobers!, helping them live life with an exclamation point!

We share so much of our lives with our staff. Spending time with these amazing women and getting to know them and their families is a joy. And now it is our great privilege to introduce them to you. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature profiles of our staff members – the women behind the boobs.

victoria rileyVictoria Riley joined Beyond Boobs! as Business Development and Operations Manager in February of 2016, but her involvement with the group goes back several years. Her mom, Chris Schwab, is BB!’s Managing Director, and when Chris became active with BB!, she brought her daughter along with her to events. Victoria took part in the BB! fashion shows on the Southside, and also went to the Pink Carpet Gala and the “Breast” Ball Golf Tournament.

Victoria studied art history in college, but she is equally at home with technology. Currently she is working to build BB!’s infrastructure, including the implementation of Salesforce, a cloud computing platform.

“It is an exciting time to join the organization,” Victoria said. “We are experiencing a new wave of growth that will bring on new technology and infrastructure developments, which is something I am passionate about.”

Victoria and her husband Jamin were married last fall. The newlyweds, along with their rescue dog, Finnigan, live in Fairfax and are in the process of relocating to Williamsburg. Victoria and Jamin love playing golf and tennis together. They also spend as much time as they can hiking and camping, especially in their favorite spot, the Shenandoah Valley.

, June 19, 2016 | More Post by

Beyond Boobs! is one big happy family, but it is also a business. In addition to a host of amazing volunteers, BB! has been blessed with a group of talented, hardworking staff members who are truly the backbone of the organization. Because of their love and dedication, we are able to continue our mission of providing encouragement and support to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Staff members work behind the scenes to make sure all of our events run smoothly, and they take care of the millions of not-so-sexy, but just as valuable, details of running a business. Most important, they are there for our Boobers!, helping them live life with an exclamation point!

We share so much of our lives with our staff. Spending time with these amazing women and getting to know them and their families is a joy. And now it is our great privilege to introduce them to you. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature profiles of our staff members – the women behind the boobs.

Vicki Vawter and her husband, Lenny.

Vicki Vawter and her husband, Lenny.

Vicki Vawter, Events and Community Relations Manager for Beyond Boobs!, discovered the group back in 2007. One of her friends, a breast cancer survivor, showed her a copy of BB’s annual A Calendar to Live By. Vicki was intrigued by the calendar, which does double duty as a health and wellness guide.

Back then, Vicki walked to raise funds for a national breast cancer foundation, and she was also putting together a golf tournament to raise money for that group. After seeing the calendar, Vicki invited BB! to be part of the tournament. By the time the third year rolled around, the fundraiser was all about BB!

In 2010, Vicki and Beyond Boobs! cofounder Mary Beth Gibson were sitting in the bleachers, watching their kids play baseball, when Mary Beth turned to Vicki and said, “You’re already ‘working’ for us. Let’s make it official.”

“It was the perfect time in my life for me to take on full-time work,” Vicki explained. “Why wouldn’t I help if I could?”

Vicki was one of the first full-time BB! staff members, second only to Managing Director Chris Schwab. “It is amazing to have been there from the beginning and to know you are helping to build something,” Vicki said.

In addition to organizing the “Breast” Ball Golf Tournament every year, Vicki works with the BB! team to put together all of the group’s signature events, including the Pink Carpet Gala, Run for the Hills, Mr. Breast Fest, and Starlets of Dance. She also communicates with everyone who raises funds for BB! and makes sure they have the promotional materials and information they need.

“Every day after work I know I have made a difference,” Vicki said. “I can see the difference in people’s lives when they connect with others at events, choose a healthier lifestyle, or get a mammogram. You can’t do that at just any job.”

The golf tournament, which celebrated its ninth year in April, is still Vicki’s favorite BB! event. This year, 343 golfers participated in the tournament. The parking lot was a sea of golf carts bearing familiar faces, as well as golfers new to the event. Vicki and her husband high-fived each golfer as they passed on their way to the course. Over the past nine years, the tournament has raised nearly $200,000 for BB!

This summer Vicki and Lenny will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary. The couple lives in Williamsburg with their two children, 17-year-old Karsen and 14-year-old Ryan.

, June 15, 2016 | More Post by

Beyond Boobs! is one big happy family, but it is also a business. In addition to a host of amazing volunteers, BB! has been blessed with a group of talented, hardworking staff members who are truly the backbone of the organization. Because of their love and dedication, we are able to continue our mission of providing encouragement and support to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Staff members work behind the scenes to make sure all of our events run smoothly, and they take care of the millions of not-so-sexy, but just as valuable, details of running a business. Most important, they are there for our Boobers!, helping them live life with an exclamation point!

We share so much of our lives with our staff. Spending time with these amazing women and getting to know them and their families is a joy. And now it is our great privilege to introduce them to you. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature profiles of our staff members – the women behind the boobs.

Here's Desiree Parker manning a Pink-Link booth at a recent conference.

Here’s Desiree Parker manning a Pink-Link booth at a recent conference.

Desiree Parker was a roving reporter for Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, an online news site, when she met Beyond Boobs! Cofounders Mary Beth Gibson and René Bowditch in 2008.

“They were so kind, loving, and open,” said Desiree. “I covered the group as part of my nonprofit beat for WY Daily and felt such a connection with them.”

Desiree also has a personal connection to the BB! mission. Her mom was diagnosed with two unrelated cancers – lung and breast. She passed away in 1997 from complications related to lung cancer, at the very beginning of Desiree’s freshman year at the College of William & Mary. Because of that, the work BB! does to support young women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families is especially close to Desiree’s heart.

When Desiree decided to take some time off from work in 2014, it felt only natural to volunteer with BB!, so she offered to write press releases for the organization. In June of 2015 she became a contract employee. “I got sucked in,” she said with a laugh.

In addition to writing press releases for BB!, Desiree also helps the group with their social media presence. She is on the ground floor of Pink Link, a social media site for breast cancer survivors that is part of the BB! family. “I handle administrative duties for Pink Link and I have also been working to get the new site up and running,” she explained.

Desiree loves the teamwork that comes with being a BB! staff member. “We are a small group and I feel like we all have lots of ownership in the organization,” she said “It’s not just Mary Beth’s baby, it’s everyone’s baby.

“Covering Beyond Boobs! as a reporter made me want to work with them,” she continued. “Working with a nonprofit is a good career path for your heart and your soul. I am exactly where I want to be and I am so happy this worked out.”

Desiree and her husband Gary have been married for 13 years and have a 12-year-old son, Alex. The family lives in Williamsburg. When Desiree isn’t working or watching her son play soccer, she enjoys writing fiction, doing yoga, and meditating.

, May 16, 2016 | More Post by

lucy mckayKristin O’Keefe, freelance writer, recently wrote a touching blog entry about our beloved Boober!, Lucy McKay, who passed away on Mother’s Day this year. Kristin and Lucy were childhood friends, and in her blog, Kristin shares how Lucy impacted her life over the years. Click HERE for a link to the post.

Lucy, you will be missed, and your life will be celebrated by those who knew and loved you.

 

, May 04, 2016 | More Post by

April Salvant is one of our calendar models for the upcoming 2017 calendar, and she also writes a personal blog called “The Salvant Seven.” Her recent post was about her experience becoming a part of BB! and deciding to be a calendar girl – yay! – and she agreed to let us share that blog post here. Enjoy! Visit her blog at salvant7.blogspot.com.

“Beyond Boobs!” by April Salvant

salvant 7 b

My friend Beth is a breast cancer warrior and survivor. She’s amazing.

Beth and I met over 10 years ago in a women’s Bible study group but we had lost touch over the years. When I was in Haiti some mutual friends shared the news about Beth and I prayed for her but never contacted her. Honestly, I didn’t know what to say. Then last fall when we resettled in our old neighborhood, a mutual friend invited Beth and I along for lunch so that we could reconnect. She shared her story with me and I drew so much strength from her. We cried, laughed, and I asked her a thousand questions. We have the same type of cancer (triple positive) but hers had been much worse- she had symptoms a year prior but it was dismissed based on her age- therefore, it had spread by the time she was diagnosed. She is way more of a bad-ass than I am.

Beth invited me to a support group called Beyond Boobs and gave me a calendar that they make every year. BB is a support and health non-profit for women under 50 who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The mission is to bring women who are going through it together for support and to also educate the public with breast healthcare information.

I am the first to tell you that I am not the kind of person who would go to a support group. It’s not my jam. But I liked the cheeky name of this group and I like Beth so I decided to go to a meeting with her. I felt really awkward at first in the group of strangers. However, the strangers quickly became sisters. Not only that but I gained some information there that actually benefited my health. I had not had any lymphedema after surgery but I did have a little swelling that week in my elbow. The ladies were talking about how important it was to wear a compression sleeve while flying- something that I had never considered. I went home and ordered a sleeve for my Haiti trip. When I got to Haiti my ankles were swollen but thankfully my arm was fine!

One day Beth texted me and told me that I should apply to be a calendar girl in the Beyond Boobs calendar for next year. She was going to be a photographer and had no say in the selection but thought it would be cool if I could do it. I was like sure, why not. I never thought I would actually be selected. And then a few weeks ago on my way to Haiti I found out that I had been chosen.

That’s right, I am a calendar girl.

In all honesty, I can’t think of a more undesirable time in my life to be photographed, but I am all about the awareness…cancer is real and it happened to me. Beth was chosen to be my photographer! How exciting is that?! And no worries, I will be dressed. I can’t wait to see what Beth and I come up with for our spread.

I am really excited to be a part of this project. This is the 10th anniversary edition. Over 82% of the 10,000 copies are donated to clinics and health facilities. The information in these calendars could save someones life through prevention or early detection.

Here’s the deal though- I need to raise some money for this fabulous organization so these calendars can be produced. I need sponsors! Here is a FORM that you can print, fill out, and send in as an individual or business or group. Lots of different levels of sponsorship. Or you can donate through their website. Please let me know if you donate so that I can personally thank you. Together we can make a difference in many lives by spreading life-saving information, inspiring stories and photographs.

, April 25, 2016 | More Post by

A Celebration of Beyond Boobs! Volunteers

“Volunteers are love in motion.” Unknown

Beyond Boobs! volunteers are the best and every day they give their best to our Boobers! We are overjoyed to have such an amazing group of volunteers, and it is because of them that the young women we serve have hope for the future, inspiration to overcome, and the power to thrive.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week, but we have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers that we want to celebrate all month long! Stay tuned to the blog as we recognize Joanne, Chaunai, Kim, and Ben for the incredible work they do every day for BB!

Check us out for Beyond Boobs! volunteer opportunities. The more the merrier!

Kim NortonKim Norton jumped at the chance to volunteer with Beyond Boobs! when she saw a posting from the group online, and for the past year she spent every Wednesday afternoon with BB! Managing Director Chris Schwab in the group’s Williamsburg office, filing and organizing.

Kim’s schedule recently changed and she is no longer able to volunteer with the group, but the staff is grateful to have had her as part of the team.

One of Kim’s big projects was helping out with A Calendar to Live By, which also does double duty as a breast health guide. While there are many different ways to sponsor the project, Kim kept track of all the individuals and businesses who purchased a day of the year to honor a loved one. She also kept the paper files in order.

“I really enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I have when tasks are completed and things are organized,” Kim said.

Although she loves paperwork and data, Kim also enjoyed the camaraderie in the office. “Everyone is so nice and upbeat,” she said. “I really enjoyed working with Chris because she is so easy to talk to.”

Kim and her husband Ron have been married for 33 years and have three grown children. One of their favorite new pastimes is kayaking on the Chickahominy River.

, April 18, 2016 | More Post by

A Celebration of Beyond Boobs! Volunteers

“Volunteers are love in motion.” Unknown

Beyond Boobs! volunteers are the best and every day they give their best to our Boobers! We are overjoyed to have such an amazing group of volunteers, and it is because of them that the young women we serve have hope for the future, inspiration to overcome, and the power to thrive.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week, but we have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers that we want to celebrate all month long! Stay tuned to the blog as we recognize Joanne, Chaunai, Kim, and Ben for the incredible work they do every day for BB!

Check us out for Beyond Boobs! volunteer opportunities. The more the merrier!

Ben&BettyAnneBen Smykowski lost his wife, Betty Anne, to ovarian cancer in 2014 and he volunteers with Beyond Boobs! in her memory. “Betty Anne was such a great person,” he said. “She was the love of my life and my soul mate. Volunteering is my way of honoring her.”

Ben is retired from the IT industry after 45 years and volunteers at the BB! office in Williamsburg every week. He worked on BB!’s website to help get all of their information into Salesforce, a cloud computing program. Normally he is a member of the Tuesday Tag Team (T3s), but he is on call 24/7 if a need should arise.

“The women at BB! make me laugh,” Ben said. “I admire them so much, especially after all they have been through.”

In addition to his volunteer gig at BB!, Ben also volunteers three days a week at the front desk at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Before she passed away, Betty Anne worked at Cullom Eye & Laser Center as a medical records person, and Ben volunteers at the Doctors’ Surgery Center every Thursday when Dr. Cullom is performing cataract and LASIK surgeries. “Everyone there still talks about her,” Ben said. “They even have the slogan WWBD – What would Betty do?”

This year Ben is the presenting sponsor for BB!’s annual “Breast” Ball Golf Tournament, donating the money in Betty Anne’s memory. “I can’t do enough for Beyond Boobs!,” he said. “I love the organization and everyone involved is so dedicated.”

Ben is the father of two grown children and has a 13-year-old granddaughter. He lives in Williamsburg and is very active with his church.

, April 11, 2016 | More Post by

A Celebration of Beyond Boobs! Volunteers

“Volunteers are love in motion.” Unknown

Beyond Boobs! volunteers are the best and every day they give their best to our Boobers! We are overjoyed to have such an amazing group of volunteers, and it is because of them that the young women we serve have hope for the future, inspiration to overcome, and the power to thrive.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week, but we have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers that we want to celebrate all month long! Stay tuned to the blog as we recognize Joanne, Chaunai, Kim, and Ben for the incredible work they do every day for BB!

Check us out for Beyond Boobs! volunteer opportunities. The more the merrier!

Joanne HenkDiagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2011 at the age of 53, Joanne Henk knew she wanted to get involved with Beyond Boobs! when a family member told her about the group. Beyond Boobs! co-founder and Good Health Fairy René Bowditch took Joanne under her fairy wings and taught Joanne how to be a fairy herself.

“I wear a little bit of pink and a lot of wings,” joked Joanne about her gig as a Good Health Fairy during BB! signature and community events. She especially loved being part of a parade in Urbanna one year. “There was lots of hooting and hollering,” she said. Her favorite part was when the dozen or so fairies walking in the parade all spun around at the same time.

When she isn’t carrying a wand and educating everyone about breast health, Joanne is a member of the Tuesday Tag Team, also known as T3. Every Tuesday Joanne joins her fellow T3s at the BB! office in Williamsburg to work on admin tasks and help get stuff ready for the events BB! hosts throughout the year.

“The T3s are amazing,” Joanne said. “We do a lot of grunt work, but we have a blast. The other volunteers and staff hold me up, and I know I can say anything and they will understand. The BB! office is a place of miracles.”

, April 01, 2016 | More Post by

A Celebration of Beyond Boobs! Volunteers

“Volunteers are love in motion.” Unknown

Beyond Boobs! volunteers are the best and every day they give their best to our Boobers! We are overjoyed to have such an amazing group of volunteers, and it is because of them that the young women we serve have hope for the future, inspiration to overcome, and the power to thrive.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week, but we have been blessed with so many wonderful volunteers that we want to celebrate all month long! Stay tuned to the blog as we recognize Joanne, Chaunai, Kim, and Ben for the incredible work they do every day for BB!

Check us out for Beyond Boobs! volunteer opportunities. The more the merrier!

Chaunai McKnightOriginally from Queens, New York, her time in the Navy brought Chaunai McKnight to Southeastern Virginia. She learned about Beyond Boobs! through her public administration master’s program at Old Dominion University and she interviewed for an internship with the group. Chaunai has lupus and it is her dream to one day start a nonprofit to provide support to those diagnosed with the disease.

“I want to learn more about all women’s health issues and be able to help people no matter what,” Chaunai said.

Chaunai is part of the Tuesday Tag Team, known as the T3s, and helps out behind the scenes with the group’s events and fundraisers. She also traveled with the Good Health Fairy to an outreach event held at Thomas Nelson Community College.

“As a T3 I really feel like I am part of the team,” Chaunai said. “Everyone is super nice and BB! is very family-oriented. I want my future nonprofit to be just like BB! because they keep it small and personal.”