Clayton resident Sandy Hunt and Wanda Jelus of Beavercreek had their first volunteer experience at the Celebrating Life and Health Fair, sponsored by the Levin Family Foundation, more than 10 years ago. They were so impressed that both joined the nine-member volunteer health fair committee, and are looking forward to the 15th annual fair April 1.
Hunt was introduced to the health fair by another volunteer. “I went along to help out, and then joined the committee,” she said.
“It’s been an amazing adventure. I was surprised at the number of people who attended, all the health screenings available, and I didn’t know until then how many people in our community were hungry,” said Hunt, who is the director of the Victim/Witness Division of the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. “I took two of my kids the second year, and one woman told us the free meal they provided at the fair was the first meal she’d had in a week. They always serve a hot meal and package leftovers for take-aways.”
Hunt’s two youngest children have volunteered at the health fair for the past five years.
“I started out working wherever they needed me, and for the past eight years have been volunteer coordinator,” she said. ”We have 60-to-70 vendors, all who provide services for free, and lots of community sponsors.
“The most popular screenings are mammograms and diabetes, although there are screenings for just about everything. I’m amazed at the number of people who attend all the health screenings. And, they even provide free spaying/neutering certificates for participants’ pets, which can play an important part in peoples’ health.”
Jelus became a volunteer committee member when the head of the Sinclair Health Care Department who had been doing the job retired, and a replacement was needed. A professor of nursing at Sinclair, Jelus said, “I wanted to branch out into the community, to promote wellness instead of curing illness.
“I didn’t know about the health fair before that first year, and was overwhelmed. I’d never seen so many people who needed screenings in one place at one time.”
Jelus’ job is to match health care students with needed services at the fair. “During the fair, I get students signed in, inform them of their job responsibilities, then troubleshoot throughout the day.
“Student reactions are very positive; they’re amazed that such an event occurs and feel really good about being able to help the community.”
She notes that services are added as committee members see needs. “We’re surprised at the number of people without regular dental care, and dental students work with a man who’s an oral cancer survivor; mammograms are a big deal and near and dear to me, a breast cancer survivor. If you can catch these things early, you can increase the quality and quantity of life.”
One year, while doing glucose tests, they found a man who couldn’t afford his insulin so was only taking it once a week instead of daily. “His blood sugar was so high that we had to have medics take him to the hospital.”
In addition to testing, a wide variety of issues that affect peoples’ health are addressed: information is shared on available health care benefits, and volunteers sign up eligible people; Legal Aid helps participants with living wills and health care power of attorney; home safety and housing issues are addressed; children are fitted with bike helmets; smoke alarms are provided.
“Services run the gamut,” said Jelus. “And this year, Operation Peaceful Slumber is coming to demonstrate the sleeping boxes for infants. The Levin family is so forward-thinking and have so many links and support within the community — as we think of needs, they’re addressed.”
The 2016 health fair attracted 4,000 people; 21 percent were unemployed, 53 percent had an annual income under $20,000, and nine percent were uninsured.
Contact this contributing writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.