Coronda Jones has high blood pressure.
In fact, her blood pressure was so high that she had to leave a recent health and wellness event on 29th and Wright streets in Metcalfe Park to take her blood pressure medication.
“It was 150 over something,” Jones said when she returned. Jones doesn’t have a blood pressure cuff at home and learned of the high number during a free screening at a community event put on by the Metcalfe Park Community Action Team, a resident-led organization.
Jones, her grandchildren and dozens of other Metcalfe Park residents took advantage of the free screenings and six vendors’ booths, including blood sugar screenings, information to help pregnant women stop smoking cigarettes, diabetes prevention, Alzheimer’s, self-breast exams, housing, health insurance, nutrition and more.
Melissa Jones, community outreach coordinator for Molina Healthcare in Wisconsin, said it was important for the insurance company to have a booth at the event to educate residents on the changes the Affordable Health Care Act will bring.
“We want to let people know there is insurance available that can help them,” Jones said. “We do have providers and when everyone goes to enroll on Oct. 1, Molina will be one of the insurance companies people can purchase products from.”
Danell Cross of MPCAT said the event, held in front of the Dr. Wesley L. Scott Senior Living Community, 2800 W. Wright St., is just one of many the group has planned to bring Metcalfe Park residents together.
“What we wanted today is to bring our elderly out with our young people to change the atmosphere,” Cross said. “We don’t want our elderly people scared of our young people and we don’t want our young people to run from our older people. We want to come together as a community and take it back.”
Revitalizing the community includes revitalizing people, Cross said. An inflatable bounce house kept small children entertained and a free corn roast kept mouths full during the afternoon event. Before the health and wellness fair, residents participated in a neighborhood clean-up and The Neighborhood Foundation worked on an artistic board-up project on 28th and Wright streets. The day ended with an outdoor movie.
MPCAT has expanded through the efforts of the Building Neighborhood Capacity Program, a White House project to support and strengthen neighborhoods by empowering residents. Right now, Cross said the group’s focus is finding resident leaders. Cross and Sara Bauer coordinate the Metcalfe Park neighborhood BNCP.
“We have 42 blocks in our community, and within each block, we are looking for a leader…to join us because more hands mean less of a load,” Cross said. “Although we have organizations backing us, we’re a resident group, not an organization. We are people caring about people and we need more people from this community to care.”
MPCAT plans to go door-to-door to spread the word about its activities and let residents know about its recent partnership with Fondy Food Market. The market will match SNAP or FoodShare dollars for all Metcalfe Park residents. Cross said beautification, African-American history education, safety and youth engagement projects are also priorities for the group.