BROOKSVILLE — One of the best-kept secrets in Hernando County opened last summer with little fanfare. Two women hope to remedy that this weekend with an event to promote the American Cancer Society gift room and resource center.
The center, tucked into room 203 at Pinebrook Regional Medical Center, 14540 Cortez Blvd., is stocked to serve female cancer patients with items to enhance their appearance.
Offered free are wigs, hats, scarves, breast prostheses and mastectomy bras. Most of the items, all new, have been donated by manufacturers, companies that support cancer programs and boutiques.
To draw more attention to the shop and raise funds, a vendor fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in the yard and parking lot at R&R Garage Doors, 16050 Aviation Loop Drive in the Airport Industrial Park.
"ACS has gift rooms everywhere, but it hasn't been here for 10 years," said Victoria Crowe, coordinator of volunteers for the site. Local patients have had to visit shops in Pasco and Citrus counties. "We just got in 15 wigs," Crowe said, raising the number to 60 pieces.
The gift room is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays only. On a recent Wednesday, volunteer Ann Mau gestured to a variety of hats hung like decor on the pleasantly pastel walls.
"They are so cute," she said of hats that ranged from a flower-and-ribbon bedecked straw hat fit for a dress-up outing to a femininely designed ball cap.
Mau opened drawers revealing scarves in abundance, some appropriate as scrunchies and others sized for traditional head wraps.
The mastectomy bras, from lacy to tailored, are made with a pocket to contain a prosthesis replicating a breast. Also on hand are prostheses in a range of sizes, noted volunteer Vicky Foust.
Foust, 70, and Crowe, 44, are both two-time cancer survivors, Foust with cancer of the breast and hip and Crowe with two bouts of breast cancer.
They want to spread the word of survival and of the gift center to ease the battle and recovery for other women.
Crowe recently trained four new volunteer staffers who will instruct women in fitting and styling wigs, tying scarves and selecting appropriately sized bras and prostheses.
Training also featured the serving of compassion, often needed by patients as much as cosmetic aids, she said.
Adding the quartet to the trio of volunteers already on staff may enable the center to expand its hours. Vendors for the Saturday fair will offer cosmetics, mobile phones, new and vintage jewelry, hats, children's games, copies of a local cookbook and travel reservations.
Occupying some of the 30 slots will be the AARP, an animal rescue-adoption agency, social service agencies and nonprofit groups. A bloodmobile from LifeSouth will be hand to accept blood donations.
There will also be an appearance by an Elvis impersonator, music, face painting for kids, demonstrations of yoga and Pilates and refreshments.
Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society gift room center, Relay for Life's upcoming cancer survivor dinner and LifeSouth Community Blood Center.
Beth Gray can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.