|Marita and Sharon at 2013 "Lunch with Friends"|
After Francine Shubert lost her battle with breast cancer in 2002, several of her friends set out to honor her spirit and drive in a way that provided lifesaving services to women who may not otherwise receive them. Our vision became a reality in 2005 when Francine’s Friends was established and our Mobile Mammography coach went out on the road for the very first time.
Now, after more than 13 years, Francine’s Friends continues to make a difference in the lives of women in our area, providing screening mammography to those who might not have access due to lack of insurance, funds, transportation or other barriers. Never in our wildest imagination did our small group of “friends” think we would grow to include so many other FRIENDS — and create an all-volunteer board and an expanded event committee who have faithfully served and successfully hosted 13 “Lunch with Friends”.
Francine’s Friends is grateful for and relies on two key community partners. Parkview Health provides funding for diagnostic testing if required for uninsured and underinsured who are screened on the coach as well as operational support. The Breast Diagnostic Center (BDC) provides radiologic technologists to staff the coach, the coach drivers, board certified, dedicated breast imaging mammography radiologists who provide the mammography readings, and maintains the equipment.
Our true success lies in the countless donors and sponsoring organizations in our community — our founding partners, our annual table captains, our bosom buddies, our event sponsors, and our third-party fundraisers — through which we have been able to meet our mission and grow our reach.
We are now happy to share plans that will allow our vision to continue and grow in new ways. After serving since the inception of Francine’s Friends, I will be retiring and am stepping down from the volunteer role of board president. Thanks to our ongoing partnership with Parkview Health, an executive director has been hired to fulfill the responsibilities of leading the mission of the program. Marita Dwight-Smith, former Director of the Breast Diagnostic Center and Francine’s Friends board member, will serve in this executive director role.
It has been a wonderful privilege to serve as the Board President of Francine’s Friends. As an all-volunteer organization, the board and its friends have accomplished tremendous things through funding of mammograms and affording many women in Allen and the surrounding counties with their first screening mammogram. We now look forward to seeing our passion and vision continued through Parkview’s support and Marita’s leadership, knowing this important program is in very capable hands.
Contact information for Marita Dwight-Smith:
Marita Dwight-Smith, BAM, RT(R)(M) ARRT
Director of Francine’s Friends Mobile Mammography
11109 Parkview Plaza Drive | Fort Wayne, IN | 46845