WASHINGTON – A local organization that offers free mind and body treatment for cancer patients and their caregivers honored two volunteers who lead those programs and the organization’s co-founder at the Watergate Hotel March 16.
Hope Connections for Cancer Support presented awards to volunteers Afie Lattimer and May Benatar and to Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Rothenberg during its 10th anniversary gala.
Lattimer and Benatar have been supplying Hope Connections mind and body programs as volunteers every week for the last five years.
Lattimer teaches an inner peace and healing class as well as Reiki healing techniques.
“Every week they don’t want to leave the (class),” Lattimer said. “They feel so good.”
Debra Ellis, a cancer patient and D.C. resident, said the classes at Hope Connections help her to live without fear.
She said Lattimer helped her remember the power she has inside.
“She’s the reminder,” she said of Lattimer, who was standing close by. “She reminds us of our inner strength, and it’s something we have to work on all the time.”
Lattimer described her programs as “teach(ing) empowerment.” She also tells patients and caregivers they can’t make negative emotions go away.
She said she would have participants ask themselves “?Do I want to be upset?’” and help them change their attitudes to “?I’m going to choose to think happy thoughts.’”
Rothenberg received the Celebration of Hope Award for her leadership in community outreach and in co-founding Hope Connections. While the other co-founders Bonnie and Bernie Kogod first came up with the idea and supplied the seed money, Rothenberg helped carry the Kogods’ idea to fruition. She also led the effort to open Hope Connections’ second location in Prince George’s County last year.
The Kogods came up with the idea after they lost their teenage daughter Michele to cancer. Not long after, Rothenberg’s father passed away due to cancer. They formed a team in 2004 in pursuit of creating Hope Connections.