healthforu

CLARKSVILLE — More than a dozen health services organizations seeking outreach to the community came together Wednesday for the first Health4U health fair.

Shamilla Franklin, a nutritionist, and health educator Jessica Crawford, both with Health4U, organized the event with an eye toward getting people with questions about health care and health insurance coverage to sit down and talk about the issues. Health4U is a program of the Community and Clinical Health Bridge Project, an initiative funded by the state from the Department of State Health Services.

“There are a lot of programs and services available to people but they do not know about them,” Franklin said. “Health care is so complicated, I just envisioned all of these organizations in one place, putting faces to the organizations. It is not like a regular health fair, where people just pick up information, but we encourage people to ask questions and talk to the experts. We wanted fewer fliers and more face to face.”

Health4U was organized locally in April 2017, and since that time it has sponsored The Kids Marathon, the Mad Max Mud Run, the annual Turkey Trot, and the North Lamar, Rivercrest and Clarksville high school bands. It also is a weigh-in station in Clarksville as well as in Paris for Lighten Up East Texas, a state-funded fitness initiative. Their next involvement will be with the Paris Main Street’s two-day Putt-Putt Golf Challenge, to be played throughout downtown Paris in March.

Health4U in Clarksville serves a predominantly senior community, but it does work with youth, teens and blue-collar adults, Franklin said.

“There is a large Hispanic population here and they come in and participate in our programs, as well,” she added. “They are interested in (Paris Junior College)’s English as a Second Language program here.”

Among the more than dozen organizations and businesses at Wednesday’s event were insurance companies such as Cigna Health Spring and Copeland Insurance Group, state agencies like the Texas Department of State Health Services with booths for immunization and emergency preparedness and Ark-Tex Council of Government’s Area Agency on Aging, health care providers such as Physical Therapy Clinic of Paris, counseling services like Paris Pregnancy Care Center and home health care providers such as Focus Care of Clarksville and Signature Home Health. Each booth, set up in The Hub Community Center near downtown Clarksville, was staffed with volunteers ready to answer questions for those in attendance, who were registered at the entrance for door prizes. 

The Hub Community Center, 501 W. Broadway St., in Clarksville, is the home of Health4U in that city, as well as the home of several other community-based outreach programs, such as the city’s Main Street Program, Paris Junior College’s GED program, AA and The Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley’s Clarksville branch. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and all of the programs operating out of The Hub are free to the public.

It is run by Catana Yarnell, who came to the position through the Methodist Conference’s outreach activities. She also oversees about a dozen other outreach programs in the area, from free community meals to women’s groups to monthly bingo evenings sponsored by a roster of community groups and businesses. Yarnell also runs a children’s lending library in Deport.

Sally Boswell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6962 or at sally.boswell@theparisnews.com.

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