Charlie Stayton

former Executive Director
The Witness Project
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006

Increasing breast and cervical cancer awareness among African American women.

A survivor of cervical cancer, Charlie Stayton, 63, joined the Witness Project as a volunteer in 1990 and was later hired as director of the organization. The Witness Project is a breast and cervical cancer education and outreach program targeting African American, minority, and medically underserved women in the Delta region of Arkansas.Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in the United States, and yet many women delay screenings for a range of reasons – limited knowledge of the disease, misunderstanding of appropriate screening frequency, restricted access to screening and treatment, and lack of insurance coverage. Volunteers for the Witness Project visit women in African American churches, community centers, and work sites and teach them about the benefits of early detection through self exams and mammography. To facilitate screening appointments, program volunteers connect the women with child care and transportation. Free and low cost screenings as well as cancer treatment are also made available to program participants. Under Stayton’s direction, the Witness Project has expanded to serve thousands of women in Arkansas each year and has inspired a network of 33 similar programs in 22 states.