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Annual United for Health Fair set for Saturday

Posted by Cara Bayles  May 6, 2011 02:03 PM

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The Voice of the Tabernacle Multi Service Center will host its annual Inite Pou La Sante/United for Health Fair this Saturday.

The event that draws hundreds of Mattapan residents, mostly from the neighborhood's Haitian immigrant community, who flock to the church to get free health screenings and check out other local resources.

The event was founded five years ago by Rev. Nicolas Homicil, an active member of the community who tackles other neighborhood concerns, including youth violence and substance abuse.

"This is a church that is predominantly French and Creole speaking," he said. "I saw the need among the elderly who are Haitian and don't speak much English and do not have health care coverage. … When they're sick, they stay home, because they have nowhere to go."

He partnered with the Boston College Connell School of Nursing to create the health fair, and it grew significantly, with medical professionals from Carney Hospital, Boston Medical Center, the Mattapan Community Health Center and Dana Farber Cancer Institute joining in. Saturday's event will offer free services ranging from cancer screenings and dental exams to blood pressure checks and nutrition counseling.

Homicil said that the event seeks to connect residents with other resources as well, like insurance companies and real estate advisers, to meet needs he's observed among his parishioners.

"I live in Mattapan, my church is in Mattapan, and I serve these people almost seven days a week, so I see the needs of the community," he said. "Some people are afraid to go to the hospital, because they don't speak much English and don't have health coverage. … By making this event in the neighborhood, in the church, they're coming somewhere they don't feel scared to go."

E-mail Cara Bayles at carabayles@gmail.com.

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