This fall, Temple City church hosted its first community health fair in recent history, serving about 70 people. The health fair provided access to various health education services, such as Medicare and Medicaid insurance information, as well as massage therapy, dental care, senior living, smartphone training, haircuts, manicures, and more.
“We looked at the needs of the church and the community,” said Patricia Patterson, Temple City church Adventist Community Services (ACS) director. “Being so close to reenrollment for health care benefits, we also wanted to meet the needs of those in the area.”
The planning committee, comprised of seven to 10 volunteers, tapped into personal and professional resources to find organizations to partner with, such as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, LA Fitness, Adventist Health, and others.
The team hoped to work with the American Red Cross so people could donate blood, but the organization wasn’t available on that date. Yet where one door closed, God opened another. “To our advantage and our blessings, City of Hope became available on the day we were having our health fair due to a last-minute cancellation,” Patterson said.
Among the variety of health services, nutrition was an important component of the event. One church member prepared vegan lentil chili samples and provided the recipe. Another church member made homemade granola—recipe available—and gave away aloe vera plants.
Hector Muñoz, owner and manager of the Health and Beyond store in El Monte, brought samples of fruit and vegetable juices and a kale salad, with recipes available for each. He played a second role at the health fair by sharing about how he manages his multiple sclerosis and how, after multiple doctor visits and various treatment plans that weren’t working, switching to a plant-based diet helped him regain mobility. “He’s a walking testimony,” Patterson said of Muñoz, who prior to the dietary change was using a wheelchair.
Feedback from attendees and vendors was positive. The City of Hope team said they are excited to work together with the church again. Patterson recalled an attendee who came into the kitchen where Patterson was serving and said, “Wow, I didn’t know my cholesterol was high; I need to work on it.” Another, who took a recipe after sampling the kale salad, said to Patterson, “I don’t know if I can do this, but I’ll try.”
Though Brett Poynter, Temple City church senior pastor, was the head organizer for this year’s event, he is passing the baton to Patterson to lead next year, and she has accepted with enthusiasm.
“I see this position coordinating a lot of different activities,” Patterson said. “I’m excited to bring community services to food and health ministry. It’s been a wonderful experience being involved and seeing people enjoy learning more about health.”
By Araya Moss