June 07, 2006

Sister Margaret Helps Needy With Healthcare

Sister Margaret Smyth of the North Fork Spanish Apostolate was honored recently for a lifetime of helping the less fortunate.

Whether it be the burgeoning East End day laborer community, the homeless, or Guatemalans who need assistance in securing necessary documentation, Sister Margaret is always there to lend a helping hand and offer warm words of support and solace to those who might be feeling lost and alone in a strange land.

And now, Smyth has announced two new initiatives that aim to serve the needy: this Sunday St. Agnes Church in Greenport will host a health fair for the scores of area residents who need education and guidance.

Suffolk County, said Smyth, was recently awarded a grant offered by the Office of Rural Health Policy's Small Rural Hospital Improvement (SHIP) program, a health initiative program that provides funding for health planning at the community level.

The funding, said Smyth, has helped jumpstart a number of events around Suffolk County, including two on the North Fork.

The grant, said Smyth, enabled the North Fork Spanish Apostolate to work in conjunction with various partners to orchestrate the health fair. In the St. Agnes auditorium alone, 22 health care agencies will be represented, with 7 more downstairs.

The goal, she said, is to disseminate health information, and "to target the underserved," including the scores of immigrants who have no health insurance.

The fair will also be a fun family event, with clowns and music. "After you go to the fair and learn, then you get a ticket for the barbecue," said Smyth.

A purple bus will drive through the village, picking up residents and bringing them to the event.

"As always, Sister Margaret provides the lead in dealing with the complex challenges of the immigration wave into our area," said Greenport Mayor David Kapell. "The health fair is yet another example of the innovative outreach services Sister Margaret brings to bear for her constituents."

Beginning on June 18 is another event made possible by the SHIP grant: a mobile health van will be visiting Riverhead and stopping on Roanoake Avenue so that residents can obtain services.

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