MLK health fair drew 70

By MICHELLE FIRESTONE
Chronicle Staff Writer
January 19, 2016

WILLIMANTIC — In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, those who attended a health fair Monday werereminded of the legacy of the late civil rights leader. On Aug. 28, 1963, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C., during which he emphasized a vision that all human beings would haveequal rights one day.

Speakers noted Monday there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve King’s dream and health care for all is one of those goals. “But it is important to remind ourselves that progress is being made,” said Whitney Allen, who works as a collegiate health service corps coordinator for the Eastern Connecticut Area Health Education Center Inc. That message was delivered to an audience at Eastern Connecticut AHEC’s third annual health fair at Generations Health Center Monday afternoon.

The goal of the health fair was to educate the community about the resources available in the area. Entities participating in the fair included Generations, the Connecticut Tech Act Project, which includes the Eastern Connecticut Assistive Technology Center, Grow Windham, United Services Inc., Connecticut Legal Services, Women’s Center of Eastern Connecticut and Access Community Action Agency.

According to AHEC, about 70 people attended the health fair, which was part of the “MLK Day of Service.” The “MLK Day of Service,” is part of “United We Serve,” President Obama’s national service initiative. AHEC is a non-profit organization that aims to increase diversity, strengthen quality and enhance the services of future health-care professionals. Patti Brown, a child advocate and community educator at United Services, said Martin Luther King Jr. Day promotes the importance of freedom. That is particularly important in her line of work. Brown works with domestic violence victims. “It’s not as easy to escape the relationship as people think,” she said. Allen told the audience they should ask themselves if we are “fulfilling Dr. King’s legacy as a community.” “Every year, I always like to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King because it continues to be relevant in my life,” she said.

During the event, several raffle prizes were given out and free food was provided. Sierra Colon, vice president of the Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS) at Eastern Connecticut State University, told the audience that, because of the work done by King, she is able to have an education. She encouraged the audience to use this day as a “lifetime of service.” “Let us drive into the heart of oppression and do what we can to stop it,” Colon said. Riddhi Thaker, a youth health services corps coordinator with AHEC, said she hoped attendees had a “meaningful experience at this year’s health fair.” She emphasized the importance of King’s vision. “Dr. King proved that courage, determination and conviction can make dreams possible,” Thaker said.

MLK Health Fair photo collage