The health and well-being of immigrant and minority communities was the focus of a large public gathering Saturday in Santa Rosa, where attendees were put in touch with a wide array of local nonprofit groups and government services.
Organizers of the Binational Health Fair, in the future Roseland Village Neighborhood Center, said they expected more than 500 people to visit and connect with medical, legal and social service providers.
“We want to raise awareness and educate the community about services available to them,” Marcos Mejia an enrollment counselor with Santa Rosa Community Health, which put on the event.
President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration and those in the country illegally has led some local immigrants to balk at reaching out for services that are available to them, Mejia said.
“Fear isn’t preventing people who have already been enrolled in services from using them, but it can stop people who haven’t already,” Mejia said.
Saturday’s event, now in its second year, brought 68 government agencies and nonprofit groups to the Sebastopol Road site from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A representative from the Mexican consulate in San Francisco was on hand to give information on the services the Mexican government offers to its citizens living in the United States. Comité VIDA, a Santa Rosa-based immigration legal service group, sponsored a table to tell people about the low-cost legal aid they provide.
“A lot of people are currently under a lot of stress,” said Maria Elena Valle, an outreach assistant with Comité VIDA.
Such uncertainty and anxiety does affect the health and well-being of immigrant communities, Valle said.
But the fair also had community groups that attempt to work outside the current political climate. The Girl Scouts and the Salvation Army’s Double Punch Boxing Club had games for kids and a Roseland dance troop performed to songs including the summer’s hit “Despacito.”
Nursing students from Santa Rosa Junior College had given out nearly 100 flu shots halfway through the fair, said nursing student Vanessa Littrell. Free blood pressure and blood-sugar tests and care referrals were also available.
Carlos Carreras, 44, a Santa Rosa resident from Jalisco, Mexico, walked around the fair with his 16-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. He had a handful of informational material he picked up from service providers.
Like many others at the event, Carreras went to the Mexican consulate table to inquire about getting dual citizenship for his U.S.-born children.
“There are a lot of services that I didn’t know about,” Carreras said in Spanish. “Especially pre-school programs for my son.”
You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nrahaim.