Each year St. Michael School in Newark hosts the Living Well Together Community Health Fair, but it’s more than just a school event, said Hugh Spink, one of the fair’s co-organizers.
Rather, he said, the fair provides a way to reach out and give back to a community that gives so much to the school year after year.
Now in its fourth year, the Living Well Together Community Health Fair will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. April 5 in the gymnasium of the school, which is located at 320 S. Main St. Representatives from more than 50 agencies, organizations and businesses will be on hand during the fair, said Spink, the school’s health and physical-education teacher.
"This is the largest it’s been. It seems to be growing because we have more and more vendors calling and saying they want to come," he said.
Spink and school nurse Jill Harper still send out dozens of letters soliciting vendors for the health fair, but that job becomes a little easier each year as word spreads that the fair is a top-notch event, he said. The first year many vendors declined the invitation to the school’s fair because they were already committed to other such events around the region, but that response is becoming less common.
"I think it’s getting out there that a lot of people are really interested in coming to this. We serve about 350, 400 people that come to this," Spink said.
This year’s fair will feature representatives from such well-known national agencies as the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Alzheimer’s Association and the March of Dimes Foundation. Representatives also will be on hand from dozens of local entities, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Clifton Springs Hospital, Seneca Falls Health Center, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, Finger Lakes Health Geneva General Hospital, Lifetime Care Home Health and Hospice, the Lyons Fire Department, Newark-Arcadia Volunteer Ambulance and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
The fair also will feature a cooking demonstration by Wegmans chef Devon Ferguson, who will prepare whole-wheat penne with roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach in a garlic sauce.
The community benefits from having such a large number of diverse vendors at the fair, Spink said. This year visitors will be able to learn about topics ranging from eye and tissue banking, to essential oils, to whole-food supplements, to chiropractic care.
Each year the health fair’s organizers choose one charitable organization or cause to spotlight, and this year is no exception. Visitors to the fair will be able to donate money to help a second-grade girl from Lyons who was hospitalized with a severe case of the flu earlier this year and has yet to make a full recovery, Spink said.
"She got the flu and everything went wrong with her body, and so she’s been at the hospital," he explained.
St. Michael students have been collecting a jug of spare change for the girl, and this jug will be out and open for donations during the health fair, he said.
Last year health-fair visitors helped raise money for Pennies for Patients, a nationwide fundraising effort through which elementary-, middle- and high-school students collect spare change to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Students have raised millions of dollars through this program since its inception in 1994, according to the society.
"We were going to do that again this year, but then I caught wind of this little girl," Spink said.
The health fair has no admission fee because it’s not a fundraiser, but rather a gift from the school to the community, he said.
"I’m trying to give back to all the people who gave to St. Michael’s throughout the years. That’s kind of the backbone of this whole health fair," Spink said.