BERLIN — Last week, the ribbons went up as the town of Berlin prepared to turn itself pink for October.
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, survivors, town officials and local businesses are coming together with a series of activities and specials meant to educate and inform.
Turn the Town Pink (TTP), which celebrates its second anniversary this October, is run by the Worcester County branch of Women Supporting Women (WSW) and organizers are already predicting that it will be a much larger event than when it debuted.
“About two dozen Berlin merchants and businesses,” said Rota Knott, Coordinator of the WSW Worcester Chapter, “will be showing their support by decking out their windows in pink and offering special merchandise, discounts and sales with a portion of the proceeds being donated to WSW.”
Businesses in Berlin will be doing everything from placing a pink ribbon in the window to holding sales or creating special products.
“I don’t know of any other town that does that,” said Karen Deveney, a five-year cancer survivor who volunteers at WSW. “They [businesses] are totally getting involved.”
According to Knott, the support for her organization and the women it represents has been higher than expected.
“Everybody is doing something different … it’s amazing how many people want to just do things,” she said. “Slowly but surely we’re going to turn everything pink.
The outpouring of enthusiasm from the town was noted by many other members of WSW.
“I think it’s admirable that they’re doing this,” said Dot Kaufman, a 12-year survivor and volunteer.
“It’s amazing how many of them [businesses] want to help,” said Hope Palmer.
Palmer, who was only diagnosed with breast cancer last June, revealed that WSW has quickly become an important part of her life.
“I needed to go talk to somebody,” she said. “I needed to be educated.”
At first apprehensive about walking in, Palmer quickly found herself taken in by the atmosphere.
“You just leave here feeling reassured that everything will be okay,” she said.
Now, only four months later, Palmer has made the transition from client to volunteer, contributing her time to help others like herself who are confronting the disease.
Much like Palmer, Debbie Heiland, a seven-year survivor, was nervous about going to a support group initially.
“When first diagnosed, I figured I didn’t need an organization,” she remarked.
Now, almost a decade later, Heiland volunteers and works part time for the Worcester Chapter of WSW.
Knott, who is also a survivor, explained that from the moment the ribbons went up last Friday, through October and beyond, the message WSW is trying to promote is one of solidarity and education.
“We’re really trying to grow down here,” said Knott, stressing that WSW is focused on locals and the local community. “There are still so many people who don’t know who we are or what we do.”
Here’s a look at what town businesses are planning this month:
Jeffrey Auxer Designs: selling pink and teal blown glass pumpkins, $35 each with $10 donated to WSW.
Berlin Coffee House: pink lattes with a portion of proceeds donated to WSW.
Cupcakes in Bloom: pink ribbon cupcakes with a portion of proceeds donated to WSW.
Church Mouse Thrift Shop: has already made at donation to WSW and has all pink items on sale, selling $1 donation cards.
Victorian Charm: special sale to benefit WSW on Oct. 7-9.
The Globe: pink dessert to benefit WSW, selling $1 pins.
Baked Dessert Café: 10 percent of sales on Oct. 14 to benefit WSW, selling $1 donation cards.
Oh, My Hair: pink feathers and hair all month to benefit WSW, cost is $10 all donated to WSW.
Bruder Hill: 10 percent of all jewelry sales through October to benefit WSW.
J.J. Fish: selling $1 donation cards.
Bungalow Love: 10 percent of sales on Oct. 14 donate to WSW.
Treasure Chest: portion of proceeds of any pink ribbon merchandise sale donated to WSW.
Atlantic Hotel: donated a one night stay at Atlantic Hotel or Lighthouse/ The Edge for raffle.
Rainbow Florist: offering pink arrangements in different price points, 10 percent of each sale donated to WSW.
Berlin Chamber of Commerce: selling $1 donation cards.
Displaying pink ribbons are Town Hall, Culver’s Antiques, PNC Bank, TaDa, TaDa Home, Arts Council and Town Center Antiques.