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Helping the minority community to stay healthy

The Holy Family Senior Center Saturday morning bustled with a community health fair, its attendees taking in information on everything from chronic illness to mental health to end-of-life care.

All who attended could benefit, but one group in particular was its focus – the minority community and its particular needs.

The brainchild of the CareerSource Gulf Coast’s Valentina Webb, who worked closely to coordinate the event with the Florida Department of Health’s Alma Pugh, the community health fair was part of programming for National Minority Health Month. Co-sponsoring the event was the ECCC, the Elder Care Community Council, which runs regular activities for seniors out of Holy Family.,

The room was ringed with booths, from end-of-life care by Kara Walker, the new community engagement coordinator from Big Bend Hospice all the way around to Breanna Bryant, an Apalachicola native who brought an assortment of herbal, organic soaps and rejuvenation bars, she markets as London’s Face.

In between were representatives of FAMU Cooperative Extension, at a booth manned by Allen Vanerson, extension program assistant; Moving Education Institute, led by Frenchy Haynes, which is planning a second year of summer camp activities in Apalachicola; Weems Memorial Hospital and Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf, the latter offering blood pressure checks; and Refuge House, which earler in the week had held a communtiy conversation luncheon on sexual violence. 

John Griggs, MSN, a diabetes care and education specialist with Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf, opened the morning with a talk on diabetes, a disease with a high incidence in the Black community.

After a movement exercise led by Temolynn Wintons, the performing arts teacher at Franklin County Elementary School,  the attendees, seated in a circle in the center of the room, Apalachicola native Dr. Willie Tolliver, who is preparing to retire from his social work professorship at Hunter College in New York City, spoke on the emotional and mental trauma that can afflict minority communities. He recounted his life growing up on the Hill, and offered insight into how individual health needs can be understood in the wider context of the group, particularly in communities of color.

All morning long there were drawings of gifts provided by the many sponsors of the event. And swag bags given out to attendees offered everything from mrochgures to thermometers to exercise equipment.

The morning closed with a sampling of healthful snacks, including fresh fruit and yogurt, and tiny crust-less quiches, prepared by Webb, Mary Stutzman and Kerry Petty.

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