'Project Healthy Living' serves distressed families

Annual event takes place on Saturday at Bert's Marketplace in Eastern Market

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DETROIT - Project Healthy Living, an event designed to encourage and honor area families facing economic challenges, is coming to Eastern Market on Saturday, March 16.

The event will be held on Saturday, March 16 at Bert's Marketplace, 2727 Russell Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Project Healthy Living is an annual effort by United Health Organization (UHO) and its partners in the Helping Our Own (HOW) to serve distressed families in southeast Michigan.

The HOW Alliance is a consortium of local businesses, faith-based organizations and health, human and social service agencies.

The goal of the event is to help families faced with job loss, foreclosure, eviction, and homelessness, and other challenges.

"As our nation marches forward toward economic recovery, we want to focus our attention on the most vulnerable in our community," said Ifetayo B. Johnson, executive director of UHO and Project Healthy Living.

Funds have been raised by the AKA's Lambda Pi Omega Chapter. Chi Eta Phi's Lambda Chi Chapter will subsidize a full battery of health screenings and services for low-income and indigent participants. Free health screenings for obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dental and vision will be offered along with HIV testing, counseling and referrals. Cash donations are being accepted and will cover the health screenings for the first 350 participants.

The event will feature a community resource fair, live entertainment and light refreshments. New and slightly used clothing will also be available. Licensed cosmetologists will be on hand to provide shampoos, hair cuts and styling services. Over 150 volunteers, some from the Metro Detroit Pan-Hellenic Council, are expected to help deliver services to participants. 

Helping Our Own, dubbed HOW, was formed in 2011 in direct response to the economic crisis and the rising number of evictions and lay-offs across the region. Instead of waiting for a government bailout, members of HOW set about offering health screenings, grooming and personal care services for families facing economic challenges. Members of the HOW Alliance include United Health Organization (UHO), Bert's Marketplace, Detroit Eastern Market Corporation, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Lambda Pi Omega Chapter, Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc., Lambda Chi Chapter, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Rho Sigma Chapter, Advantage Healthcare, Detroit Rescue Mission, Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA), America Baptist Churches, Future Search Collaborating for Children, and Church of the Living God Christian Center. The group is committed to community involvement.

"If attendance numbers from last year's event are any indication, then it's evident there is a great need for the HOW Alliance and this Project Healthy Living event," said Felicia Foster-Gibson, Site Coordinator and Health Chairman for both the AKAs Lambda Pi Omega Chapter and the Chi Eta Phi Sorority's Lambda Chi Chapter. She added that participants can expect to be pampered for a day, obtain free health screenings, clothing, enjoy a delicious meal and relax in a nurturing environment. Organizers are expecting to serve over 500 participants this year.

Monetary gifts and in-kind donations -- food, new clothing, personal care items, toiletries, and services, etc. -- are welcome. Dollars collected will be allocated toward grants for blood testing services.

Clothing donations are being accepted at Bert's Marketplace Saturday, March 2 and March 9 from 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Only new or laundered clothing items will be accepted. There is a particular need for men's clothing of all sizes and new undergarments for women, men and children.

For more information, call the Project hotline at (313) 531-9108 or visit UHO's Web site at www.projecthealthyliving.org.

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