Overtown gets a shot of progress

Natalie Edgar//The Miami Hurricane
Overtown resident, Antoine Lindor gets prepared for a health screening done by Chris Yoong. “I’m glad I came here, I can’t even remember the last time I got a regular check up," he says during the Life Science and Technology Park Health and Resource Fair. Natalie Edgar//The Miami Hurricane

A free Health and Resource Fair was held at the Life Science and Technology Park (LSTP) in historic Overtown this Saturday. The event was a collaborative effort from the University of Miami, Miami-Dade College and South Florida Workforce to provide the community with health screenings and career direction.

“Our goal is to put people on the path to success in jobs that they qualify for or can qualify for with some more education,” said Emanuel Washington, the creator of Community Work Training Program, Inc. “The South Florida Workforce has provided money so that people can train at Miami-Dade College and potentially receive a job from the University of Miami in the future.”

At the event, Washington had 25 people sign up for his guidance service on their job hunts. The other five career tables were from the university’s medical center.

Jobs were being offered by various medical campus locations, but the Tissue Bank is hiring people to work at the new LSTP facility. Most of the jobs listed require or prefer applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.

But entry-level positions are available in clerical work that only ask for high school diplomas,” said the senior recruiter for nursing, Connie Bailey.

Bailey was not impressed with the event’s turnout.

“We are here for the community but the community hasn’t really showed up,” she said.  “There was a rush at one point, but we haven’t gotten what we intended for.”

The executive director of the LSTP, Marcelo Radice, felt differently and said, “there was a steady flow of people the entire time.”

“Although we called it a Health and Resource Fair, most people came looking for the jobs,” Radice said. “Today’s purpose was also to announce to the community that we are opening next week.”

Miami-Dade College nursing students informed attendees about the signs of breast and lung cancer and taught children the importance of washing their hands. The nurses also administered blood tests.

Several residents were happy to receive the medical attention.

“I’m glad I came here; I can’t even remember the last time I got a regular checkup,” said Antoine Lindor, an Overtown resident.

An email was sent to residents listed on an Overtown community mailing list to spread awareness about the event.

“I’m glad I came to get the blood pressure and cholesterol screenings I needed,” said Sharena Bennet, a Liberty City resident, who attended the event because of the email. “I wish more people would’ve known to come out.”

Snacks and beverages were given, as well as UM paraphernalia, like drawstring backpacks and pens.

Fiorella Melendez, a student at Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus, came for the health screenings, but was happy to find out about the job openings.

“I am definitely going to apply to be a physician’s assistant,” she said. “I had to bring my son along today so I was happy to see how well the event was catered to the kids. The coloring books kept him entertained and it was nice that they also educated him about health.”

Additionally, members from the Creative Praise Ministries in Overtown spoke to women at the event about empowerment.

The organization encourages women in Overtown and the surrounding area to find confidence through the motto, “I am valuable.” The church also has support groups for men and children.

The LSTP will officially open on Sept. 20. Check out umlsp.com for more information and upcoming events.