December 1st of each year has been designated as “World Aids Day”. Throughout the month and the weeks before, there are many opportunities for the public to participate in HIV/AIDS awareness activities.
One church in the Baltimore area found a way to assist the community and practice the principle of reciprocity–giving back. Saturday November 28, 2015 from 10:00 am -2:00 pm was the date and time designated for this unique event. Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, located at 2812 Reisterstown Road, hosted a health awareness session in which participants could be tested for HIV/AIDS.
The church had sponsors from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and Shoprite Market of Howard Park. Also, approximately two dozen sorors from the 200-member Baltimore Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta provided their resources as volunteers under the leadership of President Joe Ann Oatis.
The process was simple. As participants entered through the side door of the church, they were given a number. They were then escorted to the lower level dining hall of Mount Lebanon, where the number would be called. Next, they were interviewed by a volunteer, which included necessary health information. They were then escorted to one of three testing stations, where more health questions were asked. Their mouths were then swabbed and they were escorted back to the waiting area for approximately 30 minutes.
In the interim, participants could partake of the light refreshments and check out the giveaways which were available. Giveaways included sample packets of toiletries, water bottles, pill boxes, notebooks, and pens. There was also HIV/AIDS literature available. At an appointed time, results were ready and shared with participants. Haircuts were provided courtesy of Blessed Cuts barber Trevon Johnson.
The first 100 participants were also given a free turkey.
According to Mount Lebanon Senior Pastor Franklin Lance, this is the fourth year in which the church has hosted this type of activity. He said “The church believes in ministries that matter. There is a high rate of HIV in the 21215 zip code where the church is located. We found a way to have HIV/AIDS statuses checked and to give away turkeys. The sponsorship through Shoprite allows us to give away 100 turkeys. We anticipate about 150-200 people will be tested”. The ultimate goal, according to him, is to identify any positive results in order to help the community.
The event took between 60-90 days from conception to implementation. Although this is the fourth year for the event, this is the first time, according to Pastor Lance, that haircuts were provided. The “Testing for Turkeys” process took about 35-40 minutes to complete. The event was free and open to the public.
For further information, check out the church’s website.
There are additional activities planned throughout the month in various parts of the state of Maryland. For a calendar of events, contact the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.