Outreach program preparing for 3rd health fair Oct. 9


THESE DAYS, Miriam Pitt, administrator of The Lasting Connection, is usually on the phone.

She is organizing the group's third health fair, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 9 in the parish hall of St. Lawrence the Martyr Roman Catholic Church in Jessup.

Pitt's calls have been fruitful. Howard County General Hospital will send nurses to do blood pressure screenings at the fair.

Representatives from North Arundel Hospital will be on hand to assess visitors' risk for diabetes and give out coupons for cholesterol tests.

Screenings to test hearing and inspections to ensure that child safety seats are properly installed will also be done.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department will send representatives from its breast and cervical cancer programs.

Representatives from Alcoholics Anonymous have been invited to participate.

The Jessup Fire Department will be there, as will McGruff the Crime Dog -- to emphasize the need for safety and taking precautions against crime.

The Lasting Connection (TLC) is an ecumenical outreach program serving Jessup, Savage, Elkridge, Fort Meade, Severn and parts of Columbia. The program, which began in November 1997, offers a variety of services to the elderly and the poor.

Two of the programs -- the Friendly Visitor and Respite Care programs -- pair volunteers with people who are homebound.

Respite Care volunteers provide a two-hour break for caretakers of homebound people -- time to go shopping, get a haircut or just take a walk.

Friendly Visitor volunteers agree to visit the sick, critically ill or mentally challenged for one hour each week. Both groups of volunteers commit to weekly visits over six months.

TLC is supported by St. Lawrence the Martyr Church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, Payne Memorial AME Church and Jessup Baptist Church.

Coordinators from each church meet monthly to discuss TLC and its programs. They are Dewey Gatewood of Jessup Baptist; Dot Scruggs of Wesley Chapel; Debbie Goodman of Trinity Episcopal; Debbie Yeadon of Payne Memorial; Pitt, of Christ the Servant Lutheran; and Pat Dutko of St. Lawrence.

Pitt began her association with the program as a Friendly Visitor. Volunteers drive the program, she said, and have expanded it by leaps and bounds.

This summer, a young woman knocked on the door of the parish hall looking for a Catholic priest for her daughter's first confession. It was a Thursday and TLC is usually open only on Tuesdays, but Pitt happened to be working.

Pitt is Lutheran, and she told her visitor, Marisa Garcia Faust, that she didn't know much about the Catholic faith.

As the two women started talking, they found that they had something in common: Faust is a physician's assistant and Pitt is a retired nurse.

Faust talked about her commitment to serve people with limited access to medical care. Pitt was interested in doing something for recent immigrants and women getting out of the Jessup correctional facility. Both groups might have little access to health care.

They decided to turn their shared concern for those with limited access to health care into a van service. Faust works in the Glenwood Health Center in Baltimore, which, she said, could serve people from this area. "I have a director at the center who would take care of the insurance and the driver, if we could get a van," she said.

Now Pitt and Faust are looking for a van that they can use on Thursdays to take people to the Baltimore clinic.

Getting together

On Tuesdays, TLC offers a get-together for seniors in the St. Lawrence parish hall.

Recently, TLC seniors have traveled to Montpelier Mansion, made crafts, decorated sweat shirts and listened to health talks.

Retiree Henry Dewberry is a bit of a computer wiz. He is teaching folks served by TLC to use computers so they can be part of a larger network.

Dewberry has four PCs and would like to acquire more so he can teach more people at one time. He's looking for 486s with modems and Windows so he can offer classes on how to surf the Web and how to use the most popular software programs.

For details or to volunteer: 410-799-6150. The office is at 2815 Jessup Road.

Walk for Alzheimer's

Yesterday, about 50 Senior Strollers from Phelps Senior Center participated in a Mini Memory Walk at Laurel Mall to raise money for and awareness of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's is a degenerative disease of the brain in which memory and normal functioning gradually decreases.

The Senior Strollers, whose members exercise at Laurel Mall on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, raised the money for the Greater Washington Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. The walk was held, in part, to publicize the the Prince George's County Memory Walk to be held Oct. 2.

Participants pledged to contribute modest amounts toward the Alzheimer's Association, and Bonnie Wilkerson, who works for the Laurel Department of Recreation and Parks, matched each contribution.

Laurel resident Karen Lubieniecki says that the response from the Phelps center, the city of Laurel and Laurel Mall so impressed organizers Don Cartwright and Annette Cobb that they are considering making the walk an annual event.

Information on the Alzheimer's Association: 301-652-6446. To join the Strollers: 301-776-6168.

Pub Date: 9/10/99

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