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Committed to wellness — Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington draws people to community health fair

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Nora Katurakes, right, from Christiana Care talks to 7 year old Benjamin Diaz and Katiria Olivera about the amount of sugar in soft drinks during the Community Wellness Health Fair sponsored by Catholic Charities, July 7, 2022. Dialog photo/Don Blake

WILMINGTON — The threat of bad weather did not deter Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington from tending to the needs of the community in Wilmington earlier this month. The agency held a community wellness health fair on July 7 in the parking lot of its headquarters on Greenhill Avenue in Wilmington, and the organizers were pleased with the way it turned out.

Leslie Williams, building coordinator for Catholic Charities at Fourth Street and Greenhill Avenue, said they held another fair a few weeks ago. Charities used to do these on a regular basis before the COVID pandemic and wanted to start them again.

Various providers were offering health checks like blood pressure screening, and there were also food boxes and information tables manned by representatives from the Blood Bank of Delaware, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Salvation Army, Jewish Family Services, Child Inc., St. Francis Hospital and others. There was no cost for anyone who stopped by.

“I think we’re getting a nice little crowd,” Williams said. “You can stop in and get a food box and get all the goodies at every table.”

Martha Wondoloski has her blood sugar checked by Heather Milea a Nurse Practitioner from the University of Delaware Health Sciences during the Community Wellness Health Fair sponsored by Catholic Charities, July 7, 2022. Photo/Don Blake

Lisa Schieffert, Charities’ director of operations, said planning for the fair started in May with the University of Delaware and the Salvation Army.

“We know there’s a pretty big need here,” she said.

“We try to bring out information that would support families and children. It’s really the target audience. Give them resources that maybe they aren’t aware of.”

In some ways, she continued, the need for the services provided by Catholic Charities is growing. One of the areas that has seen growth in demand is behavioral health services.

“We’re still seeing numbers up there. We’ve got waiting lists in all three counties for behavioral health services,” Schieffert said.

Martha Wondoloski has her blood sugar checked by Heather Milea a Nurse Practitioner from the University of Delaware Health Sciences during the Community Wellness Health Fair sponsored by Catholic Charities, July 7, 2022. Photo/Don Blake

Angela Williamson, the community and volunteer relations specialist for the Blood Bank of Delmarva, manned one of the tables at the fair. She hoped to spread the word about the need for blood donors and to mention that the agency had employment openings.

“I’m always looking for ways to come out into the community and spread the news. And answer questions,” Williamson said.

The fair had groups of people there at times, and other periods when it was relatively quiet. During one of those latter periods, a woman named Valerie stopped by the various tables.

Valerie, who declined to give her last name, was happy to see the Salvation Army at the event. She said she participates in a program offered by the Salvation Army that has helped her a great deal.

“They’ve totally been a huge resource for me and helped me move into recovery in my life. We stopped out here to say hello to (Salvation Army rep) and to see all they had going on,” Valerie said.

Schieffert said the numbers at the fair exceeded what they had hoped. “We were hoping to get 10. I think we’re probably closer to 20.”