In 2021, health concerns are paramount. That is absolutely true at RCMA. Since 2020, RCMA locations throughout the state not only safely cared for children but also became distribution centers for food, sanitation supplies, and information about how to stay safe and avoid contracting COVID.
Keeping our community safe has been the top priority across the organization, but it became an even more personal matter for Gloria Padilla, RCMA’s Community Relations Manager. COVID hit Gloria’s family especially hard. She and several other family members and friends contracted the virus, and tragically, her brother Bernabe Martinez Jr. lost his life to the disease.
Like many in the RCMA community and society in general, Bernabe suffered from other ailments that amplified COVID’s effects. To address this issue for the community, Gloria began planning a health fair that would provide the community with testing, as well as education and treatment for many of the underlying conditions that make COVID even more dangerous. With original sponsors, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida and Florida State University Center for Child Stress and Health, Gloria and the Immokalee Area staff organized the first health fair on December 4, 2020.
In March of 2021, the Office of US Senator Marco Rubio learned about the RCMA health fairs and joined as a sponsor. Senator Rubio’s office has been a huge help in spreading the word about the events. Each one attracts more support from organizations, health care providers, and community members than the last.
As of October of 2021, Gloria’s vision has led to eight health fairs between Immokalee, Florida City, and Wimauma. RCMA centers and schools in other parts of the state, such as Mulberry, have held their own health fairs. At each event, attendees can learn about and get tested for diabetes and high blood pressure, get vaccines for COVID and the flu, and receive diagnosis and treatment from various other health providers. Additionally, sponsor organizations distribute sanitation supplies, health care supplies, and food. These events have been so crucial for the communities that we serve. We are honored and appreciate the dedication of those who played a role in these events!