WANTAGE, NJ - For Dawn Gomez, owner of the Garden of Life Massage & Yoga Center in Wantage, breast cancer is something that affected her personally, because of many she knew who had it.
"Mom has had breast cancer," said Gomez, referring to her mother, Laura, who was also in the store the day The Alternative Press stopped by. "I have many clients, and friends, who were also impacted."
In honor of those dear to her who have battled breast cancer, and October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Gomez kicked off her second annual "Be A Dear, Donate A Brassiere," collection of new, and very gently used brassieres, to donate to those in need, who may be unable to afford to purchase a brand new brassiere. Her final day to receive the brassieres is tomorrow, November 10.
Gomez was inspired to hold the event after her friend, Michelle Van Allen, held a yearly "girlfriend party," where attendees brought along bras to benefit the "Be a Dear and Donate A Brassiere" cause, which was started in California. Van Allen's party yielded 70 bras alone, and, with donations to Gomez's store, 700 brassieres were collected in total. From there, Gomez donated them to agencies in Essex County.
"We're trying to keep as many as we can locally," Gomez said.
She has reached out to area non-profit groups such as Project Self-Sufficiency, The United Way, and DASI.
"There's a lot of people who have definitely responded to it," Gomez remarked, as she showed The Alternative Press an array of at least a couple hundred brassieres, in a variety of sizes, colors, materials, and styles.
Some of the bras, which have come in, Gomez said, are also prosthetic bras, to accommodate women who have endured single or double mastectomies.
Gomez said the drive for brassieres allows donors the opportunity to clear out their drawers of bras which may no longer fit them correctly, since it is recommended women get refitted at least once to twice annually. It will also keep the brassieres out of the landfill, where they may have been normally discarded.
"As a massage therapist, I know it affects a person's body when a bra is not fitting correctly," Gomez added.
The donations will serve a greater purpose.
"There is a need for them for women in shelters who are homeless, and experiencing serious life changes," said Gomez.
Gomez said some of these women, for example, are going to job interviews, and require the proper undergarments for their interview outfits, while meeting prospective employers.
Gomez has invited the recipients to her center for a no-cost yoga, or Pilates beginner class, or, a meditation class. While there, the women can pick out their brassiere of choice following the class. The offer for the free class is extended to the recipients through November 15.
Garden of Life Massage & Yoga Center's website, and a complete listing of classes offered. Click here
for the organization, Be a Dear and Donate a Brassiere on Facebook.