The aroma of coffee and the sounds of excited chatter filled St. Michael Church’s parish hall Jan. 26 as children and adults gathered to celebrate a feast day and promote women’s health.
St. Michael’s was the location for “Nuestra Cultura, Nuestra Salud” (“Our Culture, Our Health,”), an event sponsored by the Rochester community organization Latinas Unidas, which supports Latina women. Nuestra Cultura, Nuestra Salud featured two simultaneous events — a Three Kings Day celebration for children and families, and a women’s health and wellness fair.
As part of the community event, families were invited to enjoy breakfast after signing in at the registration table, which featured donations of blankets and winter clothes that had been collected in advance in case event participants were in need of them.
Children were given the opportunity to decorate their own Nativity scenes with foam stickers while listening to the story of how the Three Kings visited the infant Jesus soon after he was born. There also was dancing, sing-a-longs and a visit from the Three Kings, who came bearing gifts for the children.
While the children participated in Three Kings Day activities, women were invited to visit a Rochester Regional Health mobile mammography unit that was parked outside of the church so they could obtain free mammograms. They also were invited to take part in a health fair in the parish hall where representatives of local organizations offered health information and screenings. Participating organizations included the nursing sorority Beta Chi Chi, whose members offered blood pressure screenings, and health-plan providers Fidelis Care and YourCare.
Sonia Figueroa of YourCare said the organization occasionally links up with Rochester Regional Health to attend community events like Nuestra Cultura, Nuestra Saluda. In doing so, she said she has the opportunity to educate women on health-care and insurance options.
“Making sure people are insured is definitely important,” Figueroa noted.
Nuestra Cultura, Nuestra Saluda concluded with a raffle drawing for gift cards and a gift basket featuring a hand-knitted robe and other items. While names were being called out and prizes distributed, children were asked to line up for a lunch of chicken tenders and potato wedges. Once the children were seated, other family members were invited to eat as well.
Beverly Colon, a member of Latinas Unidas’ board of directors, said the organization usually likes to offer a Three Kings Day event. This year, it was decided that the feast day celebration would be paired with the health fair so community members had access to health information and screenings that they might not otherwise receive.
According to Colon, a lot of women are afraid to seek out health exams like mammograms because of the cost and because they have no insurance. Choosing to combine Three Kings with a health fair was the organization’s way of attending to this specific community need, she said.
Events like Nuestra Cultura, Nuestra Salud are an attempt at spreading cultural and health awareness within the community, Colon noted.
“They (Latinas Unidas) wanted to make sure women know there’s always a way to get health care,” she added.