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UM, Community Partners Hosting Oxford-Lafayette Health Fair

Residents of Oxford and Lafayette County are invited to a free health fair, hosted by the University of Mississippi, Lafayette County Chapter of the NAACP and MississippiCare, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Oxford Activity Center.

Free parking is available, and the new bivalent COVID-19 booster shot will be given at no cost.

Participants also can receive information on health and other needs from more than 20 organizations. Giveaways, including winter coats and diapers, will be available.

The health fair is organized by community and campus organizations, including the university’s Grisham-McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement and Center for Community Engagement.

Ruth Ball, local NAACP chair, spearheaded a similar event last year to combat health disparities and increase access to health and wellness resources for residents.

“Health is extremely important and many times, we as Mississippians do not have the time or knowhow to live a full, healthy life,” Ball said. “Having all of these organizations and their resources available in once place will provide a unique opportunity for community members to address those needs.”

MississippiCare is a nonprofit healthcare provider that offers behavioral health, women’s health, nutrition resources, cardiology and primary care services, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. It has worked with campus and community-based groups to organize similar events in Lafayette and Pontotoc counties since 2021.

“Our mission at MississippiCare is health for all,” said Karen Allison, the nonprofit’s community development coordinator. “We love to partner with organizations such as the NAACP, the Center for Community Engagement and the Grisham-McLean Institute to help connect people to resources in our community.”

Numerous Ole Miss programs and departments are contributing to the health fair, including the departments of Leadership and Counselor Education, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, and Psychology.

Noa Valcarcel, instructional assistant professor of pharmacology, piloted a bilingual health fair in Lafayette County before the pandemic. During the pandemic, she coordinated with the Grisham-McLean Institute and MississippiCare to replicate a similar event in Pontotoc in conjunction with the M Partner initiative.

“It is fantastic to see how the partnership between university and community organizations continues to grow with the ultimate goal of improving our community’s health and well-being,” Valcarcel said.

VISTA member Dayton Ashby, who serves with the Grisham-McLean Institute, has played a key role in promoting the health fair and managing volunteers.

“The fact that many community organizations, such as the NAACP, MississippiCare and the many more tabling at this event, are willing to spend the time and resources needed to put on an event of this scale is a testament to their strength and their willingness to meet the critical needs of residents,” Ashby said. “It has been my joy and pleasure to work with them and leverage the resources of the Grisham-McLean Institute to build their capacity to do so.”

For more information, contact Ashby at 662-915-2052 or drashby@olemiss.edu, or Laura Martin at lemartin@olemiss.edu, or visit https://sites.google.com/go.olemiss.edu/oxford-lafayette-health-fair/home.

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