JONESVILLE — Saturday was a day of empowerment and fun for residents of the Jonesville area as a local church and a local civic group again joined forces to provide the community with food, music, recreational activities for children, a forum for teenagers and free medical screenings for those without health insurance.
The second annual Empowerment Day/Fun Day was held at the Jonesville Municipal Complex from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
The event is the combination of the annual Empowerment Day sponsored by New Emanuel Baptist Church and the Men of Action mentoring group’s annual Fun Day.
Jonesville Mayor Ernest Moore, himself a member of both New Emanuel Baptist Church and Men of Action, said that instead of holding separate events, the church and the group decided to combine their efforts.
“The Empowerment Day was sponsored by New Emanuel and Fun Day by Men of Action and we decided last year that we wanted to come together and hold an Empowerment Day/Fun Day,” Moore said. “Last year’s Empowerment Day/Fun Day was very successful and so we decided to hold it again this year with the theme of ‘Bridging the gap between Church and Community.’”
The Jonesville Municipal Complex is located in the old Jonesville High School and Saturday’s activities were held throughout the campus.
On the old football field, an inflatable slide and water tunnel were set up for the children. In the old gym, organizations such as the Federation of the Blind and Oakmont of Union set up tables with information about the services they provide. Moore said there were approximately 45 vendors who set up tables in the gym.
The Men of Action set up their grills in the parking lot behind the complex to provide a steady supply of hot dogs and hamburgers to those in attendance. The food was served in the old high school cafeteria.
In the old auditorium there was a teen summit on drugs and teenage pregnancy. Moderated by Paulette Thompson and coordinated by Tynetta Littlejohn, the summit provided the teens on stage and the audience with information about teen pregnancy and drug abuse and the resulting consequences. Information was also provided on how to encourage teens to not engage in such behavior by emphasizing the benefits of avoiding teen pregnancy and not using drugs.
After the summit, there was gospel singing in the auditorium for the rest of the day.
Moore said an especially important service provided through the event were the health screenings administered by medical students from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM).
“I was really excited about this because it was free medical screenings for people who need information about their physical condition but are unable to go to the doctor,” Moore said. “We have a lot of people in this area who don’t have health insurance and they can’t afford to go to the doctor to get a checkup. With the help of the college we were able to provide these free medical screenings for people who need them.”
Under the supervision of Dr. Petra K. Warren, VCOM medical students in the old library checked blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index and provided related and other health care information. Warren said this was the second time the school has provided these screenings locally.
“Last year, Drs. Miller and Bouknight asked if we could bring some wellness screenings here,” Warren said. “They contacted VCOM and we came last year and again this year.”
VCOM has campuses in Blacksburg, Va., and Spartanburg. In Spartanburg, VCOM is partnered with Wofford College and is a clinical education partner with Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. VCOM’s Spartanburg campus offers four years of osteopathic medical education to 150 medical students or a four-year student body totaling 600.
Moore said that while Saturday’s event attracted a good crowd, it was not as large as it might have been because of the Uniquely Union festival in Union. He said next year’s Empowerment Day/Fun Day might be held on a different date to avoid competing with Uniquely Union.