Jeanette Anglin is always looking for opportunities to talk to her neighbors about cancer awareness and screening options. Her directory of community partners, residents and former colleagues seems endless.

So when Anglin was given the task to enroll women in a program to increase cervical cancer screening and human papillomavirus, or HPV, testing, the Barbour County, Alabama, community outreach coordinator for the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB turned to her established list, in addition to some savvy research, to find participants.

Jeanette Anglin (Photo submitted)Jeanette Anglin (Photo submitted)

Anglin scanned unemployment rolls and visited restaurants and small businesses to reach women who would benefit from the program.

Anglin is also a retired industrial nurse at Keystone Foods, a major employer in Barbour County, Alabama, that is now part of Tyson Foods. Her 19 years there introduced her to the bulk of the company’s employees, many of whom she still knew after her retirement.

“Those people had to come to me to be hired, so I knew a lot of people in the community,” Anglin said. “That enabled me to reach out and contact some of those people that I knew, along with their families and their friends, who needed the service. That’s where much of my navigation came from.”

The Alabama Department of Public Health Family Planning Community Education and Outreach Pilot was a yearlong collaboration with the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement in which health workers educated their neighbors about the services of local health departments, including cervical cancer screening and HPV testing.

Anglin surpassed her goal and reached a total of 80 women in her community.

Jeanette Anglin, left, stands with Melanie Little, executive director of YouthBuild in Eufaula, Alabama. Anglin partners with the group to present cancer awareness information. (Photo submitted)Jeanette Anglin, left, stands with Melanie Little, executive director of YouthBuild in Eufaula, Alabama. Anglin partners with the group to present cancer awareness information. (Photo submitted)

Anglin, who retired as a nurse five years ago, understood that service workers and part-time workers had no insurance or limited insurance, which made them prime candidates for the free screening program.

She visited dollar stores, talking to employees and shoppers about the program. Anglin even contacted temporary employment agencies to reach out to their workers.

“I was really surprised that so many women did not have insurance, and they were so excited to be able to get a free screening,” Anglin recalled. “They were so grateful that someone offered them the opportunity.”

Anglin’s relationships run throughout her community. To reach a younger population, Anglin joined forces with YouthBuild, a youth education and trade program based in Eufaula, Alabama. YouthBuild serves students 16 to 24 years old and provides services such as GED classes and hands-on construction training.

Anglin is a well-known figure at YouthBuild, where she delivered messages about health and cancer awareness, including cervical cancer and HPV screening information.

Anglin stands in the center with Ola Penn and granddaughters TE'Andrea Penn and Trinity Penn at Anglin's booth where she discusses cervical cancer and HPV awareness and prevention. (Photo submitted)Anglin stands in the center with Ola Penn and granddaughters TE'Andrea Penn and Trinity Penn at Anglin's booth where she discusses cervical cancer and HPV awareness and prevention. (Photo submitted)

“Understanding your own self-value and self-respect also has to do with taking care of yourself and your health,” explained YouthBuild Executive Director Melanie Little. “Ms. Anglin followed up with the students who showed an interest in what she had to offer. She’s been a great contact.”

Additionally, as a member of Old Mt. Silla Baptist Church in Clayton, Alabama, where she is president of the Women’s Missionary Society, Anglin has found Sunday mornings to be a prime time for outreach. 

“A lot of my education was done in the churches where I did a 10-minute education session,” she said. 

While the ADPH program officially ended in March 2021, Anglin’s role as a health educator, advocate and navigator remains strong around Barbour County, Alabama. Her calendar remains filled with activities and opportunities to spread crucial health messages on behalf of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement.

“I’ve always had a passion for people and been concerned for people’s well-being,” Anglin said. “When I learned, through the medical field, about the importance of prevention, it saddened me when people came down with late-stage cancer that could have been prevented. I make it my goal every month to reach as many people as I can.”


This story originally ran in the January 2022 issue of Community Connections, the monthly newsletter of the Office of Community Outreach & Engagement at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB.