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How my fraternity’s commitment to service launched community health fairs and improved national health security

Author: Okey K. Enyia, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst, Aveshka, Inc., Division of Policy and Strategic Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 4/26/2017 9:54:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

In the fall of 1997, I became a proud member of a Greek-letter fraternity at my university in Illinois, and I’m now a member of an alumni chapter in Prince George’s County, Maryland. One of the fraternity’s objectives is to provide voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world.

Okey treating an infant girl Okey talking to grammar school students

For example, at our 2009 General Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, we implemented a community health fair and symposium to educate and empower hundreds of community members who might not have had regular access to adequate health care. Several members of the health fair planning committee were physicians, dentists, and pharmacists who also addressed health care needs on the campus of local university, where this particular health fair took place. Further, as a medical student several years ago, I had the humbling opportunity to provide direct patient care while learning first-hand the importance of creating a culture of health and advancing health equity.

Okey with medical students at a health fair Okey standing with HHS Secretary Louis W. Sullivan

Today, hundreds of fraternity chapters across the country continue to conduct similar health fairs on a regular basis. College and Alumni Brothers donate their time and services to these events. While we started these initiatives decades ago as a way to give back, I learned that they also play a critical role in increasing national health security. In fact, the number one way to make sure national health security is strong is to build and sustain healthy, resilient communities.

By hosting these clinics, not only are we giving back to our communities, we’re getting to know each other, forming connections, and expanding our social networks. It’s proven that connected communities are better able to bounce back after disasters, and these clinics offer opportunities to do so. As servant-leaders in every field of human endeavor, members of my fraternity live up to our mission of developing leaders, promoting brotherhood and academic excellence, while providing service and advocacy for the communities we serve.


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