Winter Resource Fair at Sara J. González Park will offer health screenings, clothes, groceries
By Hannah E. Jones
The Sara J. González Memorial Park is a small, triangular greenspace situated in Atlanta’s Westside that, since opening in 2018, has become a hub for recreation and key community services. One of those events is happening on Thursday, Dec. 1, with the third annual Winter Resource Fair to provide crucial materials and services to nearby residents.
With the help of Welcoming Atlanta, the Mayor’s Office of International and Immigrant Affairs and other partners, residents can visit the neighborhood park to receive winter clothes, groceries, diapers, gift cards, health screenings, library cards, books and toys.
The Thursday resource fair will be held at the park — 2411 Coronet Way NW — from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, and no documentation is required to receive goods or services. To reach the nearby immigrant community, which is primarily Latino, information about the resource fair is provided in English and Spanish, and cultural staple foods will be available for pickup.
The goal is to provide goods and resources for every age, with a special focus on families with children.
“We’re providing toys for all ages — baby to 16 years old — and clothes for young children and expectant mothers. We understand that the community that shows up has a lot of young kids and we want to be able to support the family as a unit,” Community Engagement Director Sandy Feliciano said. “It’s important, especially during the holidays, that every child and every family that shows up has access to resources they might need.”
One of those resources is access to basic quality medical care. Students and faculty with the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) of Georgia will bring a mobile unit to conduct non-emergency health screenings, like blood pressure readings. The College will also hand out 120 gift cards to grocery and big-box stores.
Longtime park advisor Alisa Toney works at PCOM and helped coordinate this partnership. She sees the health screenings as critical in helping spread health education and breaking down barriers to access.
“The medical field can be very intimidating,” Toney said. “Some people may not know how simple it is to get a blood pressure reading. Many people fear seeing a physician or a dentist. [These services are] very important because, if nothing else, it can help dispel the myths.”
The resource fair mirrors the values held by the park’s namesake, Sara J. González, a changemaker in the local Hispanic community. Born in Cuba, González later had to flee to the U.S. with two children, a suitcase and limited English. In Atlanta, she built a full and impactful life that touched many. The park, spearheaded by her daughter Isabel González Whitaker, commemorates her legacy as president and CEO of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and champion of Hispanic businesses in Atlanta.
Toney met González in the early 1990s and remembers her fondly as both a friend and mentor and believes that the park’s offerings perfectly encapsulate González’s legacy. Even more, the initiative is also a testament to the power of parks and invigorating public spaces for the greater good.
“This resource fair and the park is such a beautiful legacy to who she was because of the themes that the park focuses on — diversity, inclusion, family and unity,” Toney said. “Sara led by example. She cared about others and was able to open doors, challenge perspectives and [engage] a community of people in such a respectful manner.”
She added: “The Winter Resource Fair is an opportunity for [residents] to recognize that they’re a priority. They are part of the community and someone has their back. The work of the park and resource fair is a way to wrap our arms around the community and say, ‘Hey, we got your back, and there are people looking out for you.’”
The folks with Sara J. González Park emphasized that any resident in need is welcome to join on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Click here to read more about the Sara J. González Memorial Park.