Alabaster’s first health fair draws large crowd

By MICHAEL BROOKS / Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – Health service providers from throughout Shelby County and surrounding areas gathered at the Alabaster City Hall and grounds on Saturday for the city’s inaugural Health Fair. The event was co-sponsored by Brookwood Baptist Health and the Angel Warriors Foundation.

Agreeing that council chambers looked like a field hospital, Ward 1 Council member Sophie Martin insisted the room was well-used.

“I can’t think of a finer way for our city to help her residents than by spotlighting these resources for good health,” Martin said. “We obviously discovered a need today.”

Martin said the indoor and outdoor booths were manned by a mix of health providers, physicians and charitable organizations.

Drew Dorough and Madalyn Clark superintended the outdoor table for Ortho South Orthodontics of Pelham. They had a long line of attendees ready to spin a wheel and claim a variety of gifts including sunglasses, toothbrushes, school supplies and drink koozies.

Clark, a lab tech at Ortho South, said, “This is a great opportunity for families to learn what resources we have in our area, and we’re happy to talk with them about oral health.”

Maddie Pozzo, instructor for Special Equestrians, explained how her organization works with disabled children.

“We’ve found that horseback riding is therapeutic for these children,” she said.

“Working with the animals increases social skills and physical skills as the boys and girls stretch their muscles. It also builds courage, so there are so many benefits.”

Pozzo said her organization shares space with Indian Springs School on Cahaba Valley Road.

Becky Coulter of Aaron’s Staff said her organization has branches in Alabaster, Calera and Mountain Brook offering respite care for children and young adults with special needs.

“Aaron was the son of our founder, and he had cerebral palsy,” she said. “Aaron died at age 25, and his parents wanted to take the next step in their journey. They found that this service allows parents some time to be together or get caught up on errands. I’m in charge of the Calera branch and I love my work!”

Calvin Mishaw of Homewood, an Air Force veteran, volunteered at the Yellow Dot table. He explained that this is a state agency benefiting adults with various medical needs.

“We give yellow dot window decals for automobiles,” he said. “If there’s a medical emergency the attending officer will see the decal and know there’s Yellow Dot information inside the vehicle explaining what conditions the driver has, and what medications they might need in an emergency. It’s a life-saving service.”

Brooke Bowles talked about the organization she founded, Triumph Services.

“We help people with developmental disabilities to triumph in life, in social situations and in job skills,” she said. “Our work program has an 83 percent employment rate and a 96 percent job retention rate. Our Transition program helps high schoolers as they matriculate into an adult world.”

Council chambers was filled with Brookwood physicians and other medical personnel offering health screenings and referrals. The “stocking stuffer” gifts bags and contest giveaways proved popular. The park adjacent to City Hall was filled not only with booths but with inflatable bouncers for the children and food trucks for lunch.

“We in city government decided if the response was good we’d consider making this an annual event, and the response today has been fantastic,” Martin said.