They Came That We May Have Life

Twenty-five vendors participate in church’s second annual health and wellness fair
People’s African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church has been serving the Syracuse community since its inception in the early 1900s. This legacy of service continues under the leadership of Daren C. Jaime, Pastor.

On Saturday, June 23, the church hosted its second annual Health and Wellness Fair to promote good health habits and to respond to increasing need for accurate health related information in the Black community. 

The Health and Wellness Fair was held in the gym of the church located at 2306 S. Salina St. Approximately 25 health-care providers and vendors offered health screening, information and services to the community free of charge. Family Planning Service, Art Massage, AARP, F.A.C.E.S., OCRRA, Onondaga County Lead Poisoning and Control, Child Health Plus and Family Health and Contact were among the providers present.

Tyonna Johnson, Health and Wellness President, said that the idea for the health fair grew out of a concern for people in the community who lack adequate health services. Members felt that the church should serve as a central location for the vendors to come together to provide the services to the community.

Johnson is also a member of the A.M.E. Zion Young Adult Missionary Society. The group has done a sickle cell walk-a-thon every third Saturday in September for the past five years to raise awareness and money to combat the disease. Sickle Cell Anemia Disease (SCD) affects 80,000 to 1000 Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Also, 1 in 400 Black babies is born with the disease.

“We decided to do a walk-a-thon for sickle cell because the disease affects so many people in the Black community.  No one was doing a walk for it,” she explained.  “The goal is to raise $5,000, and the money goes to the Upstate Sickle Cell Foundation.”

There is no known cure for SCD. However, efforts are being made to find better treatments and hopefully a cure in the near future.

Melinda Schaeffer worked the sickle cell information table.  She explained her involvement. “I became involved when a co-worker whose son has sickle cell asked me to help out with the cause,” she commented.  “I’ve been involved for four years.”

The American Red Cross provided emergency preparedness information on its vending table. Brenda Muhammad, Community Disaster Educator, spoke about the items to include in the emergency kits.

“You should think about having two kits.  One should include items that you need to shelter-in-place,” she commented.  “The other should be a lightweight, smaller to-go kit.”

Melissa Lawrence stopped by the Red Cross table to inquire about volunteer opportunities. She recently returned to Syracuse from a tour of duty overseas.

“I want to volunteer with the Red Cross to stay busy and active while I look for work and go to school,” she said. “I’m a LPN and an EMT.  I have experience in home-health care, dialysis and trauma.”

Lit for Life™ provided information and tips to help adults foster a love for books in their children. Lit for Life™ assists churches and service organizations to develop family and early literacy programming.  Constance (Connie) Gregory started Lit for Life™ two years ago as a project to help adults learn to read to young children.

“I was the director of the women’s program at the South Side Innovation Center. I found that people wanted to start businesses, but they weren’t literate,” she said. “The idea came to approach general literacy as early as possible.”   Ѐregory is holding “Lit for Life™ Summer Reading Contests” during the July and August to help bridge the literacy gap in the community.  For more information contact Gregory at (315) 559-4795.

According to the OECD Observer, “Literacy has been linked with better health and longer life expectancy.”



— Article and photos by Keith Muhammad, The Stand Community Correspondent

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