Where can you find a stilt walker, “street” clowns, jump rope contests, a group mandala project, tai chi and cooking demonstrations all in the same place? These are some of the activities planned for the 10th annual Tenderloin Community Health and Safety Fair on October 1st from 11 am until 3 pm. The first 500 participants will also receive a healthy “bag lunch” and everyone is eligible to enter the raffle drawing simply by visiting with eight service providers who are present at the Tenderloin Children’s Playground (570 Ellis Street, between Hyde and Leavenworth) for this festive day of events and services.
Tenderloin people (and surrounding neighbors) of all ages are encouraged to attend this once-a-year free festival where health providers, social service organizations, advocates and friends of the neighborhood gather to be present in a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Participants can freely move from booth to booth, contribute to the group art project, play board games or get a neck massage. There will be fabulous raffle prizes that focus on health and safety (such as exercise mats and balls, first aid kits, blankets and fire extinguishers) as well as art supplies, personal electronics and a DVD player. Translators in Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and Arabic will be available to assist patrons and the park is completely handicapped accessible.
Each year the event has hosted 35 to 55 agencies (including 2 hospitals and 12 community clinics) providing on-site medical services, information and referrals for a wide-array of health and social issues. This year, it was determined that the fair should also have focus on “safety providers” as these services are ultimately interconnected with personal health. Most importantly, this is a day when everyone has access to necessary care such as diabetes screening, blood pressure testing and follow-up health care information.
Among the providers committed to attend, booths will also cover topics such as: asthma awareness; dental screenings; senior services; low-cost health insurance; children’s safety; breast health education; teen pregnancy; nutrition; mental health; domestic violence; and substance abuse. Emergency preparedness, hazardous waste disposal and other safety related providers are among the added services. The Tenderloin Police Station will have a non-threatening presence of community bridging by being present with canine demonstrations, an interactive police car for the kids and mounted officers. NERT (Neighborhood Emergency Response Training) will be present for the early hours with an emergency vehicle that the kids can explore on.
Long-term benefits are already resulting from this effort. A mutual agreement between St. Anthony’s Free Medical Clinic and the UCSF Mammogram Van means that they will be able to offer free mammograms throughout the year. Pre-screening health exams are required for a mammogram and can be coordinated through the St. Anthony Clinic.
While advocates and politicians continue to knock heads about what works in regard to policy, financing and programs (and we, as organizers and providers are among them) the Tenderloin Community Health and Safety Fair planning committee has diligently continued to organize this important, annual, FREE event. We see services drop out because of lost funding and each year we loose service providers who decline to participate due to under-funding. We remain strong, however, with the many service providers who survive under increasing need and financial stress. This is a true collaboration of people focused on making good health a priority for the residents of this community who’s majority population is low-income, homeless or marginalized in some way.
Originally organized by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), the planning committee now consists of an independent group of dedicated, non-profit agencies including: Arab Cultural Center of San Francisco, Bay Area Women and Children’s Center, Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco – Tenderloin Unit, California Transplant Donor Network, Can Fit Youth Nutrition Program, Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC), Faithful Fools Street Ministry, SAFE, St. Anthony Foundation, St. Francis Memorial Hospital, S.F. Recreation & Park—Tenderloin Children’s Playground
We are grateful to our sponsors who make this event possible. The list of these neighborhood businesses and community interest groups who support this valuable event continues to grow. At this time, we would like to acknowledge and thank the following: San Francisco Giants Community Fund, San Francisco Hilton, California Endowment, McKesson Foundation, Chinese Community Health Plan, Singtao Daily, Singtao Radio, California Transplant Donor Network, St. Francis Medical Center and the California Culinary Academy.