Pictured are Rose Ruggiero and Jennifer Tom, who are working collaboratively to provide free wigs to Central New York cancer patients. Tom’s organization, Positively Pink Packages, donates wigs to Ruggiero’s salon, Rose and Co., which provides a complimentary first-time head shave and wig to the patients.
Fayetteville During the early years of Rose Ruggiero’s career as a hairstylist, she worked at a salon that required its employees to take part in community service. And during those years of employment, Ruggiero dedicated hours of her time to cutting wigs for patients at no charge.
When she moved to Manlius in 2006, Ruggiero couldn’t find any local salons that were doing something similar. So she decided to pursue her dream of opening her own shop, called Rose and Co., and teamed up with a local non-profit organization called “Positively Pink Packages” to help get its wig program off the ground and running.
Through the program, Ruggiero and her staff provide a first-time complimentary head shaving and a free wig and wig cut, if needed, to anyone diagnosed with cancer.
“There are people who say, ‘If I didn’t get this wig, I wouldn’t have had a wig,’” Ruggiero said. “Because insurance won’t cover it, or ‘I don’t know how to go about getting a wig,’ or ‘no one can drive me to get a wig.’ There are some sad stories, but the experience has been great – it’s rewarding, it’s humbling and I think everybody should give back in some way if they can.”
Positively Pink Packages
Meanwhile, a few years before Ruggiero relocated to the Central New York area, Jennifer Tom, of Fayetteville, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003.
“It was kind of unexpected,” said Tom, a 1989 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School. “I was 32 years old. And I grew up thinking that your mother, grandmother or aunt had to have breast cancer [for you to get it.] And no one in my family had ever had breast cancer, so it was very surprising for me to get the diagnosis.”
Tom immediately took to the internet to research anything and everything about breast cancer.