BY KRISTEN DIXON, REPORTER
Pouring rain, cold winds and small spaces didn’t stop hundreds of local residents from attending the fourth annual Harvest Fest Health Fair on the Pleasant Grove campus.
Organizers estimate that between 600 and 800 people, ranging from small children to senior citizens, crammed into the administration building for free screenings and other health-related services on Oct. 5.
The college holds the annual event to help people in the Pleasant Grove community who don’t have health insurance or transportation to larger health-related events in the Metroplex. The event also helps the college connect to the community.
“That’s what we’re trying to do in Pleasant Grove, to really reach the people who need it the most,” said PG Executive Director Javier E. Olguin.
Area residents are able to to the health fair and receive the services they can’t obtain otherwise.
“We came to check mine and my dad’s health,” said Angel Castillo. “We usually go to the doctor, but we don’t have health insurance. We’ve applied but haven’t heard anything back, so it’s easier to come here.”
The health fair offers a variety of services including HIV and STD testing, flu shots, glucose and cholesterol testing, blood pressure testing, mammograms and dental and vision checks. All of the services are free.
“We started with just a few resources and now we have about 50 different vendors and community resources representing us here today,” said Martha Camarillo, Health Fair committee co-chair. “Our purpose is to provide services for the children and the seniors of Pleasant Grove.”
Those who participated in the fair were able to receive health information, Medicare packets and assistance with setting up a health plan for their families.
Several of the families came to the event because they did not have insurance or the money to pay for a doctor’s visit.
The fair opened for testing at 9 a.m., but there was already a line waiting. People began arriving as early as 7 a.m.
“This is the first time we’ve been to this event,” Luz Ordaz said. “It’s easier for us to come here since we don’t have insurance or a family doctor.”
In addition to the screenings and medical information, there was also entertainment for all ages. Zumba dancers, kindergarten and senior Folklórico dancers and the Way of Truth church choir entertained the crowd.
Rain disrupted the event at about 10 a.m., forcing the whole fair to quickly move inside the campus’ administration building. Booths were set up in the main hallway.
The space was crowded, but the fair was able to continue, and the people got the resources they needed. Around 500 attendees participated in the screenings and health workshops.
There were also special activities for the children. Several of the booths featured games, toys and candy. A bounce house in the parking lot was a popular attraction before the event was forced inside.
Event sponsors included Parkland Health and Hospital System, South Texas Dental, DART, Skin Angel Center, Bear Creek Family Dentistry, the Dallas Police Department, Buena Suerte, McDonalds, Mi Doctor, United Health Care and Amerigroup RealSolutions.
Every group participating donates some kind of financial assistance to the college.
“That’s how we’re able to fund this,” Camarillo said. “Any money that we have left over from the event goes directly to the college for scholarships.”