DONALDSONVILLE — Despite the threat of rain, Saturday’s weather didn’t deter residents from learning about their health and vital community resources available to them.
The Capital Area United Way and The Church in Donaldsonville hosted the Day of Caring event Saturday, funded through a grant awarded by Depend.
Katie Pritchett, vice president of community impact for Capital Area United Way, said that the community event promotes healthy, active and independent living throughout an individual’s life, with a focus on volunteering.
“We want to make the citizens of Donaldsonville and the surrounding area aware that there are resources available to help them, many of which can be free or at a greatly reduced cost,” she said.
Those who attended also had access to free health screenings provided by Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Woman’s Hospital, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital. These included checks for breast and prostate cancer, HIV and diabetes, among others.
“Through these screenings, we want to make sure that people know that preventative care is really important to a healthy life,” Pritchett said.
Outside of the church, BREC on the Geaux brought numerous recreational activities for children, including speed cup stacking, an obstacle course and a volleyball court.
Members of the Donaldsonville Fire Department were also on hand, educating children on fire safety and adding some fun by allowing kids to control an active fire hose.
Attendees were also treated to a healthy lunch prepared by St. Elizabeth Hospital volunteers.
Inside the church’s sanctuary, area community agencies were on hand to provide information. These included Iris Domestic Violence Center, Family Serving Families, Child Advocacy Services, Capital Area Agency on Aging, Agenda for Children and more.
Fitzpatrick Pitts, campus pastor for The Church in Donaldsonville, said his partnership with Capital Area United Way came from a community needs assessment meeting he held with city leaders.
“I met her at that gathering and learned more about Capital Area United Way and what they do,” he said. “I love their core values and fully back what they’re trying to accomplish here in a community that is, in many ways, deprived of access to vital services.”
When the Day of Caring event was organized, Pitts said, he offered his church because of its location and available facilities.
Pritchett said that Donaldsonville was chosen for the event to help an area that may have trouble easily accessing such valuable resources.
“Donaldsonville is one of those pockets that doesn’t really have direct access to a lot of these community resources,” she said. “When you have one bridge to go across, it’s really difficult to get the health care and assistance that you may need. We wanted to bring those resources to the residents here.”
For single mothers and grandparents in attendance, CAUW also gave away gift baskets filled with diapers, baby wipes and other key essentials needed to raise a healthy child.
“There’s about 1,100 single-parent households in the Donaldsonville area, and many of them have, on average, about three children,” Pritchett said. “We know there are a lot of parents who are struggling in this community. We wanted to provide for them a way to get some of the vital resources they need.”
Pritchett said that Capital Area United Way is also working with St. Elizabeth Hospital to identify a community center for the Donaldsonville community that can permanently offer services such as after-school care, tutoring and employment services.
“We want to give citizens access to programs that can really help to make someone’s life at least a little bit better,” she said.
Pitts said the event will hopefully be the first of many offered in this new partnership.
“Katie and I are already putting our heads together on some new things we could offer in the future,” he said. “This will be a very positive relationship not only for United Way and The Church, but for the great people of Donaldsonville.”
Through the Depend grant, United Way chapters in nine U.S. cities – including Baton Rouge – and in Ontario, Canada are expanding their volunteer activities and outreach.
“We’re very thankful for this grant that will help us do important work in our communities that help people understand what it means to live healthy,” Pritchett said.