New CHEERS Foundation to tout women’s health in La Jolla


By Ashley Mackin

The newly formed La Jolla- based Care, Health, Empowerment, Education, Research and Support (CHEERS) Foundation is hoping to be the community resource of record on women’s health issues – particularly heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and mental health issues.

CHEERS hopes to issue grants, host events and create a community-contributed website.

“We want to help women who don’t have the resources, either financially or educationally, and (also) support organizations that are ... striving to find solutions to these health risks,” said Jackie Helm, one of the founding members of the CHEERS Foundation.

To be an efficient resource, Helm said CHEERS hopes to use the same techniques as Las Patronas, another grant-giving group. She said CHEERS will encourage organizations to apply for grants and host a major benefit to raise funds for these grants. Helm and co-founder Anseth Richards were both Las Patronas members.

“The folks we have on the board are really quality people who have done a lot of fundraising in the community, so we’re feeling very comfortable that this is going to go in a really positive direction,” Helm said.

Once some money is raised, Helm said, “We’re open to whatever comes through our grant process ... we might fund a piece of equipment at the UCSD cardiovascular center, we may fund educational situations (at) Sharp Mary Birch for the women who don’t have access to prenatal care. So it’s not limited.”

The major fundraiser on the books will be a Masquerade Ball in October. For this and future fundraisers, CHEERS has partnered with Bridal Bar, a collective of wedding and event planners who will donate their services.

Between now and then, there will be health seminars presented to shed light on medical issues. “It is difficult for the average person to decipher the current studies and recommendations and then, to make an action plan based on that information,” said Dr. Colleen McNally, a CHEERS member. “Hopefully, the health forums will provide a resource for women in our community to obtain health literacy.”

Helm said the website they plan to develop — — will also be a go-to resource for women. It would supply information on health issues, as well as be a way for CHEERS to learn about organizations worthy of grants. CHEERS began meeting in August 2012 and had its inaugural event in December. To reach Helm, call (858) 354-6333.