Estine Clay isn’t too proud to ask for help when it comes to her toddler son.
The 39-year-old Toledo woman, who recently moved into an apartment of her own, stopped at Tent City’s clothing tent, where she picked up pajama pants, three pairs of pants, two shirts, and a pair of shoes Saturday for Mister-Zy’eer, her 2-year-old.
“It’s all about my baby,” said Ms. Clay. “It’s hard to pay rent, lights, gas, and water and still have anything left. But I’m trying, and I’m so glad they do this.”
Ms. Clay was at Tent City with her two sisters, two nephews, and three nieces. The children were enjoying the face painting, helium balloons, and free hot dogs, but their moms were focused on getting them warm clothes for the winter.
The clothing tent was one feature of Tent City, an annual event at downtown’s Civic Center Mall that is a “one-stop shop” of services for homeless and low-income people.
The event features free services such as medical checkups, foot care, HIV tests, flu shots, and dental care. The event, which began in 1990, gets bigger and better each year, said Ken Leslie, founder of 1Matters, a group that advocates for the homeless and puts on the event.
“It’s community collaboration leveraged,” Mr. Leslie said. “Attendees get 20 times the value than if they went to just one of any of the groups here.”
By early afternoon Saturday, the medical tent had given 200 flu shots, and more than 200 people had been examined by a doctor. Total participation was expected to top 1,000, compared to about 750 last year, Mr. Leslie said.
Eight medical students from the University of Toledo and four physicians were on hand, along with 76 community health nursing students from Mercy College. The nursing students gave blood pressure and blood sugar screenings, and assisted the doctors and medical students, said Candy Tavormina, an associate professor at Mercy College.
Mildred Bayer Clinic representatives scheduled follow-up appointments for participants, so the help they get at Tent City could be continued throughout the year.
The event concludes today with a pancake breakfast for the homeless.
In Findlay, the Hancock County Housing Consortium, other social service agencies, organizations, schools, and businesses hosted a one-day satellite event similar to the one in Toledo on Saturday. In its third year, the Findlay event offers most of the same services as the event in Toledo.
Near the clothing tent, ProMedica and Mercy Hospital offered prostate exams and skin-cancer screenings. By Saturday afternoon, about 30 people had taken advantage of the services, said Deb Ross, education coordinator at the Mercy Health Practices Cancer Center.
“African Americans are at a higher risk for cancer, so we are screening men over 40,” she said, adding that Caucasian men generally don’t get screened for prostrate cancer until they are over 50.
Nerean Hunt, 49, of Toledo said he was grateful for the services offered.
“I’m on a fixed income and this is something I really needed to do,” he said. “I had a colonoscopy and I thought it would check the same thing, but I found out it didn’t. That kind of cancer [prostate] can be aggressive, so it’s good to get checked out.”
For more information about Tent City or to sign up as a volunteer, go to 1Matters.org.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: email@example.com or 419-724-6066.