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Cancer Coalition changes name

ALBANY — In order to reflect a broadening service area, the cancer coalition based in Albany will now be known as the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia.

Previously known as the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, the organization now covers more than 30 counties — including one that was recently added to the list.

The decision was made by the coalition’s board of directors in November after about six months of discussion. Pending all the official paperwork getting processed, the name change became effective Jan. 4.

“What we came to realize is that our coverage area is so broad,” said Coalition CEO Diane Fletcher. “It is such a large area that not everyone in the area thinks of themselves as from Southwest Georgia.

“We thought it would more accurately represent who we are.”

The coalition is now in its 10th year of existence.

“As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Cancer Coalition in 2012, I think it’s a good time to roll out our new name,” said Mandy Flynn, communications and development manager for the coalition. “It is a reflection of our work in the last decade, starting out in Southwest Georgia and expanding our partnerships and programs across a greater portion of the region.”

The coalition’s coverage area boarders Sumter and Dooly counties to the north, the Alabama state line to the west, the Florida state line to the south and Coffee and Clinch counties to the east.

Officials are now adding Atkinson County, which is along the eastern boarder of the organization’s coverage region, to their sphere of influence. The decision to do so came from the board at the same time as the name change’s approval.

“As we expanded our services over into Clinch and Coffee counties, we saw that Atkinson was being served by the same providers,” Fletcher said. “We have unofficially been serving the residents there over the last couple of years.”

The coalition’s CEO also said that the organization’s services and programs are not expected to change as a result of the transition. There are also no changes in staff planned in the near future.

“It is important that residents and our partners know our mission will remain the same,” Fletcher said. “We will be exactly the same organization with the same services.”

There was even a reason for “Cancer Coalition” appearing where it is in the name.

“We are usually referred to as the ‘Cancer Coalition,’ so we felt it was just as important to put it in the front of the name,” Fletcher said.

In 2000, then-Gov. Roy Barnes made a commitment to provide funding to aggressively fight cancer across the state. Interested individuals in Southwest Georgia came together to discuss the needs of the area, the opportunity to reduce suffering from cancer and the opportunity to capture needed resources to better prevent, find and treat cancer. By late 2001, a group of health care providers, business executives, public health officials and religious leaders committed to working together and pledged personal and organizational resources to create the local Cancer Coalition.

Since that time, it has become a non-profit organization, and has been designated as a “Regional Program of Excellence” — now called a “Regional Cancer Coalition of Georgia.”