SOMERSET, NJ: Members of the Franklin Township Police Department gathered in the living room of Sister2Sister’s headquarters on Tuesday afternoon and delivered a $5,000 check to the nonprofit, the culmination a month-long fundraising effort.
In October, the police department collaborated with Sister2Sister, a nonprofit that serves women with breast cancer in central Jersey, to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
There are a variety of things women with breast cancer may need that Sister2Sister offers, like help with rent or utility payments, a ride to the doctor, or just time to talk with someone who knows what they’re going through. Dorothy Reed, the director of the nonprofit, said the organization also works to create a “home away from home” for patients and survivors at the headquarters on Hamilton Street, a cozy farm-colonial style home built in 1887.
“We try to let women know that they do not have to die from this disease and that we care about them and we want them to live,” Reed said.
With congratulatory letters from former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama hanging on the walls, Sister2Sister normally holds support groups for survivors and counsels women in the living room where Capt. Greg Borlan of the Franklin Police Department explained the inception of the “Pink Patch Project.”
“We looked at ways we could engage the community and give back to the community,” Borlan said. “We partnered up with the police union and we came up with the Pink Patch Project.”
At the suggestion of Franklin Councilwoman Kimberly Francois, who is on Sister2Sister’s professional advisory board, the nonprofit and police department teamed up for the first installment of what both groups hope to be an annual tradition.
“It was a home run to involve our own community, we were able to give back right here, right in central Jersey, right in our town, so it was a no brainer,” Patrolman and Franklin PBA 154 President Mark Rossman said.
Officers made donations to receive a pink version of the standard uniform patch, sold t-shirts and wrapped a patrol car in pink to help encourage donations to the nonprofit.
“I’m very proud of the men and women in my police department and how they really embraced this project,” Franklin Chief of Police Richard Grammar said. “Hopefully this will be a partnership that will continue for many years to come.”
The hard work of the cops wasn’t lost on the women of Sister2Sister, who are well acquainted with the challenges of fundraising.
“They raised a lot of money for the month of October,” Reed said. “It's unbelievable. We are so grateful.
The pink patrol car, which turned out to be a focal point for the effort, helped the police department extend theinitiative into the community.
“It’s one thing to wear the patches and sell the shirts but the car was really visible, it really hit it off,” Rossman said.
The patrol car stayed on the move, making appearances at businesses, churches, events and anywhere else it could open up a conversation about breast cancer. Making stops across Franklin, the car helped spark donations from residents at businesses working with the police department like Stage House Tavern and the Corner Cafe.
The pink car became more than just a symbol. Survivors and those affected by breast cancer began signing the car and leaving messages for loved ones.
“We had it at our church one Sunday and all the survivors went out to sign the car,” Reed said. “People were signing in memory of someone and signing for encouragement. People just didn’t sign their names, they would write a note with it and it was just nice. It was a nice touch.”
Seeing the community galvanize around the car was a special moment for Rossman too.
“It brought you to tears, it was really nice,” Rossman said. “Women who survived, they went through everything, and they were able to see the car and see that people are out there to help the next person.”