Health Fair at the Sai Unity Center: Greater Boston, MA
SSSIO members from the four Sri Sathya Sai Centers of the Greater Boston area, MA have carried out free health fairs for the local community at their recently acquired facility Sai Unity Center in Lowell, MA, under the auspices of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit – Love All Serve All (LASA) Foundation.
The first health fair was held in October 2022. Pleased with its success, the organizing team decided to make the health fair a biannual event – once in April and one in October to coincide with Aradhana Mahotsavam and Avatar Declaration Day respectively.
The April 2023 event was attended by 210 visitors from the local community, which was a 50% increase in turnout compared to the 2022 event. It also attracted many underserved ethnic groups in the area, including Cambodians, Brazilians, Hispanics and Afghans.
Over 25 physicians covering a range of specialties - oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, nephrology – generously volunteered their time and expertise at the fair. Also present were dentists, ophthalmologists, and physical/occupational therapists. Unlike the previous health fair, the April event drew healthcare professionals from outside the Sai Community who volunteered their services after hearing about it from their Sai colleagues. The organizers are optimistic that this trend will continue.
The Sai Centers had already established a good working relationship with the Lowell General Hospital, through their much-appreciated grocery service for families of cancer patients in financial distress. The hospital, in gratitude, supported the health fair by sending their staff and testing equipment from their Endocrinology Center to conduct free diabetes screening and blood tests, including lipid profile and test for HbA1C. They also loaned out a few iPad translators, which came in handy in communicating with non-English speaking visitors in their native language.
The Upper Merrimack Valley Medical Reserve Core (MRC) generously sent 10 Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners, who were responsible for taking vitals and managed the triage stations. One of them held pediatric consultations for about half a dozen children who showed up even though this was not a specialty service that was offered.
SSSIO members provided food freshly cooked at the onsite kitchen for the medical professionals and volunteers. They also provided brown bags containing goodies and fruits to all the visitors at the fair.
The health fair garnered a lot of attention and support from local community organizations as well as the City Administration of Lowell, MA. The Mayor of Lowell, Sokhary Chau, attended the first health fair and was so impressed that he directed his staff to provide LASA with whatever support needed for future events. He also connected LASA with various charitable organizations and invited them to present at a City Council meeting. A Councilor voiced his appreciation for the positive impact the LASA Foundation had on the community and entered that into the official record. A local State Representative, who uses the Sai Unity building to host visiting hours every week, also expressed his deep appreciation of SSSIO service activities in the community. A local radio station also covered the event, giving the SSSIO yet another avenue to spread Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s message of love and service to all, not in words, but through its action.
The next health fair is scheduled for October 21, 2023 and is expected to draw about 300 visitors. The organizers of the fair are actively working on adding additional specialties like podiatry and mental health counseling.