© 2012  Pink SOCS Foundation Inc.
The    Pinkham    family    has    faced    extraordinary    challenges    and    loss,    and    has    chosen    to    respond    in    an extraordinary way. Christine   Dispenziere,   whose   maiden   name   is   Pinkham,   is   the   youngest   of   11   children   raised   in   Clark.   Four   of her   eight   sisters   were   diagnosed   with   breast   cancer,   and   two   of   them   died   from   the   disease   —   Joanne   Vargas in 2009 and Bette Ann Pinkham in March of this year. Despite   the   intense   challenges   faced   by   Dispenziere   and   her   family   that,   at   times,   have   left   them   feeling helpless   and   vulnerable,   they   have   chosen   to   remain   strong   and   embrace   what   they   can   do   —   reach   out   and offer assistance to others facing similar challenges. In   2005,   she   and   her   sisters   established   the   Pink   Socs   Foundation,   Sisters   of   Cancer   Survivors,   to   offer financial   support   to   cancer   patients   and   their   families.   The   organization   has   raised   more   than   $300,000   to benefit the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. Dispenziere,   a   resident   of   South   Plainfield   and   a   teacher   at   John   E.   Riley   School   in   South   Plainfield,   said   that while nothing can take away the sense of loss, the act of giving has given her life meaning and purpose. “Through   our   experience   of   loss,   we   have   realized   that   we   have   something   to   offer   others   who   have   been diagnosed with the disease,” she said. “We can say, I’ve been there, and I know what you are going through. “We   know   first-hand   that   diagnosis   is   stressful   enough   without   adding   to   that   financial   concern,   so   we   specially wanted to help those families who are facing financial difficulties to ease the burden as much as we can.” Dispenziere   and   her   sisters   began   their   fundraising   efforts   in   2003   by   participating   in   the   Avon   Walk   for   Breast Cancer   in   New   York   City.   They   raised   $38,000   in   their   first   year,   and   $57,000   the   second   year.   With   the   help   of their brother, Jeffrey, and brother-in-law, Louie Vargas, the foundation continues to grow. It was Joanne Vargas who suggested that the sisters work together to form a foundation called Pink Socs. “Joanne   wanted   to   make   a   difference   in   the   world,”   Vargas,   a   resident   of   Branchburg,   said   about   his   late   wife. “She was a driving force behind the foundation.” Still dealing with the loss of his wife, Vargas said that being able to reach out to others offers satisfaction. “We can’t pull people out of a serious financial hardship, but we can help to make things a little easier,” he said. While   the   Pinkham   family’s   fundraising   efforts   initially   were   focused   on   participation   in   the   Avon   Walk,   having established   the   Pink   Socs   Foundation,   they   have   expanded   their   fundraising   efforts   to   include   a   night   at   the races and a car show, and on Sept. 17, the foundation will conduct its annual golf outing. This   year,   the   Northeast   Supra   Forums/Jonathan   Motor   Cars/Undercover   Performance   raised   $8,000   for   the Pink Socs Foundation. In   May,   Dispenziere   and   400   students   from   Riley   School,   where   she   teaches   fourth   grade,   participated   in   a   walk and raised more than $5,000. In   addition   to   assistance   to   families   facing   financial   hardship,   the   organization   also   offers   two   scholarship   funds — the Joanne Vargas Memorial Scholarship and the Bette Ann Pinkham Memorial Scholarship. “Many   of   the   individuals   and   families   we   help   are   referred   to   us   by   a   doctor   or   they   may   come   to   us   through   our website,”   Dispenziere   said.   “There   are   34   grandchildren   in   our   family.   We   hope   that   the   future   is   brighter   for them and a cure is found. But in the meantime, we do what we can do. “We   began   the   organization   when   two   of   my   sisters   were   still   with   us,   so   it   is   tough   at   times,   but   there   is   nothing like the feeling of giving.”
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