Churches Join With AFHC For New Type Of Health Fair
It looks like the start of a great and positive coalition. Last Saturday, November 6, two of the oldest houses of worship in Rockaway, First Congregational Church of Beach 94 Street, and St. John Baptist Church, located at Beach 74 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, joined with the Joseph Addabbo Family Health Center of Arverne, to put a new spin on the idea of the “health fair.” It was not just a passive display of health information and testing; rather, volunteers from the sponsoring churches partnered with the Addabbo Center to actively engage presenters and participants in discussions on health and well-being topics.
The concept was spearheaded by Deacon Jimmy Stillwell, executive director of the Samaritan Hands Community Outreach Center at St. John Baptist Church, and a medical social worker at Addabbo Center. St. John Baptist has designated a group of volunteers as “health ambassadors” to coordinate the congregation’s community outreach and education efforts in response to the epidemics of breast cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma and teen pregnancy, among other problems. Deacon Stillwell’s wife, Jacquelyn, a health ambassador, had become acquainted with Pastor Joseph Medlin and the members of First Congregational through various joint charitable endeavors initiated between that church and the families of PS/MS 183 of Beach 79 Street, where she is the parent coordinator. Medlin learned of St. John Baptist’s own successful community health fair in September, and invited the health ambassadors of the neighboring church to meet with lay leaders of First Congregational to share their expertise. The recent health fair was the fruit of these efforts.
The two churches hope to continue their partnership in the future, beginning this Saturday, November 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., when St. John Baptist will be sponsoring a community outreach workshop called “Living With Diabetes.”