Corporate and Community Volunteers Collaborate on Food Drive

On Saturday, May 9, the Regulator Car Club, a classic car club, will hold a non-perishable food collection from 10am to 11:30pm at the parking lot of the Bass Pro Shop in Bridgeport. A parade of cars will leave the shop at 1pm to deliver canned and boxed food to the Fairfield offices of the Norma Pfriem Breast Center, which has organized a food drive for underserved patients.

Volunteers from Boehringer Ingelheim, a pharmaceutical company based in Ridgefield, will sort and bag the food and deliver to patients of the Norma Pfriem Breast Center and Bridgeport Hospital, who are experiencing financial distress and food insecurity during the pandemic.  

“Many of our underserved patients, who face financial pressures at the best of times, have lost their jobs and are struggling to meet basic needs, like food,” says Donna Twist, Ph.D., executive director of the Norma Pfriem Breast Center. “Our mission is to deliver care with compassion. Our patients’ challenges have exploded during the pandemic.  We are grateful to our community and corporate partners for volunteering so generously.”  

The food drive was the idea of Nurse Navigator Pat Poniros, who was in close contact with her patients and knew of their hardship.

“Pat recognized that a diagnosis of cancer is not the only hardship many of our patients are experiencing,” Twist says. "Given her concerns for her patients, Pat immediately reached out and began collecting food donations for patients in need.”

In addition to packaging food for patients, the team at the Norma Pfriem Breast Center has coordinated with local restaurants to donate and deliver fresh, hot meals directly to specific patient's homes, many of whom have reached out to say that they have been homebound and have not had a hot meal in weeks. 

The pandemic has taken a toll on members of the Regulator Car Club and, as part of the drive, the club will recognize a member who passed away after contracting COVID 19. An award will be presented to his widow at the Breast Center at 12:30.   

Boehringer Ingelheim has supported the Breast Center for many years.  Their donations to the Medically Underserved Initiative help patients who are uninsured and underinsured gain access to breast cancer screening and diagnostic services.  Women in greater Bridgeport and southern Fairfield County are at high risk of breast cancer.  A recent gift of $5,000 will help patients with basic living expenses, like rent and utilities, during the pandemic. 

Norma Pfriem Breast Center provides nearly 1,500 uninsured and underinsured women with financial assistance for patient care. One of only 500 sites accredited by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), the Center provides a wide range of diagnostic care and treatment at its Bridgeport Hospital, Fairfield and Trumbull locations, including medical oncology, surgical and chemotherapy services, plastic surgery, mammography and radiation therapy, genetic risk assessment, clinical trial participation as well as wellness services like yoga, nutrition counseling and massage.

Bridgeport Hospital, part of Yale New Haven Health, is a 383-bed acute care hospital (plus 42 beds licensed to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital) serving parts of Fairfield and New Haven counties. The hospital admits more than 21,000 patients and receives over 315,000 outpatient treatments annually. The Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital is the only burn center in the state and one of only 65 verified burn centers in the United States.

Caption: (l-r) Pat Poniros, Senior Nurse Navigator, Norma Pfriem Breast Center at Bridgeport Hospital, Smilow Cancer Hospital