Written by BSN student, Crystal Valenzuela
On Saturday, October 20, 2018, the American University of Health Sciences Foundation hosted their 6th Annual Health and Wellness Fair. Sponsors for the event included: Superior Grocers, Maniaci Insurance Services Inc., Brand New Day Extra Care (HMO), Seal Real Estate, Ralphs Supermarket, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and American University of Health Sciences. It was a day filled with excitement and hope. AUHS Foundation Program Director, Lieu Dang Suss organized the exceptional event. By 10:00 a.m. the campus parking lot was buzzing with students, staff, faculty, and vendors volunteering their time and services by offering free flu shots, free health screenings and free medication reviews to everyone in attendance. Books were given to children in attendance and they were able to participate in activities such as face painting, pumpkin decorating, and playing video games, Hundreds of bags of free groceries were offered to families. Prior to the event, the university distributed hundreds of grocery vouchers to various local charitable organizations, local elementary schools, and social services agencies.
Another activity at Saturday’s health and wellness fair was the Book Fair and Reading corner. Six hundred new books were purchased for the event by way of the fundraising efforts by the AUHS Foundation as well as 350 used books. Ms. June Kim, AUHS Librarian reported, “we had a lot of books to give away, we gave out one used book and one new book per child. There were a lot of visitors and we gave away around 300 books total in a span of four hours. There were many popular titles such as Dr. Seuss books, “Inside Your Outside!”, We had many health-themed books”. Local police officers, Joseph Phillips and Lance Nieves, volunteered their time to read health related books with the many kids who attended the event. AUHS founder, Ms. Kim Dang, also felt that the event was a success and served as “ a good event exposing the local community and their children to health sciences, not just about nutrition and about their bodies but also to the possibility of going into nursing in their futures, since they were able to meet nursing students and be read to about health topics, I think that will be a good memory for them and maybe motivate them in the future”.
Shay Griffin, a current cohort 24 BSN student at AUHS was kind enough to share her volunteer experience at this year’s health and wellness fair. She was initially scheduled to partake in the “media” realm of the event, however, much to her delight, there were some changes made and she was able to jump into the position of “crowd control.” Shay said, “I was able to talk to the community members that were waiting in line. There were elderly, community members and children. They waited a long time but were very pleasant. It’s one thing to “give back,” the groceries and any other items, but to see people light up after talking to them face to face, and seeing their personalities is a different feeling. I got the kids pumped up because we had a pumpkin area, a game truck with video games, there boys with big dimples on their cheeks ready to play. I educated the guests regarding flu shots. There was ice cream, and everyone loves ice cream. All in all, it was a good experience and I can’t wait to do it again”.
When asked to share his thoughts regarding the health and wellness fair, Dr. Arjun Dutta, Dean, School of Pharmacy stated, “It think its tremendous from multiple perspectives its good for both students and eventually pharmacy students to be involved in the community and put into practice what they are learning in class and in clinical rotations. It is important also from the perspective of the community where they see how the university is contributing to their welfare and their needs and how the school can serve the community and be part of the community. They believe the event was a success given the hundreds of people we ended up immunizing”. One of the main objectives from the School of Pharmacy was to administer immunizations, which they did with great success. The excitement that exuded from the kids as they were able to play, learn and experience kindness that day, as well as the appreciation from their parents and members of the local community, is what drives the AUHS Foundation, staff, faculty and students.