The Day – New London community comes out for free wellness event

New London — With support from community and national sponsors, Power Health and Cultured AF partnered Saturday to offer people fresh produce, prepared food, vaccines and other health resources — and all for free.

This was part of a Community Wellness Day held in the Harris Place atrium.

While this type of event seems especially fitting and vital now, the Power Health Tour Initiative has been around since well before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We go to different cities, and we empower the community on how to live better,” explained Karyn Joyner, vice president of Power Health, which is based in Saugus, Mass., and has an affiliate office in New York. She said a little over 200 people showed up between noon and 3 p.m.

In the rush at the beginning of the event, Joyner stood at the door with a bottle of hand sanitizer and box of gloves.

Juanita Austin, founder of the New London arts organization and social hub Cultured AF, said Power Health contacted her several months ago, before the pandemic, about doing some kind of summer program.

“They could’ve did this in a larger city in Connecticut, but they chose New London,” she said. Charles Sanderson, CEO of Power Health, said he likes to do events in smaller cities that are more in need and have fewer established programs, though he noted Power Health also has done events in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.

Aetna and Q105 were among the Community Wellness Day sponsors. Vendors included Fiddleheads Food Co-op, Men Standing Up Against Violence, The Salvation Army, Rite Aid, Yale New Haven Health, HEALTHspital Foundation and Magik Press.

Fiddleheads was giving out apples and bananas, coupons and stickers, and employee Brad Sheridan noted his aunt had made 300 masks to give out. Men Standing Up Against Violence gave out boxes of prepared foods and masks.

New London resident India Alvarez said she was headed home but saw a bunch of people outside and decided to drop in, and commented of the event, “It’s real good. It helps a lot of people.”

Denise Perez, also of New London, heard about the event from a poster at Right Path Organic Café on Bank Street and decided to check it out, noting that her neighbor was excited about it.

Rite Aid was at the event and available to provide flu, shingles, tetanus and pneumonia shots. A representative from the U.S. Census Bureau also was there, encouraging people to fill out the census.

Aly Maderson Quinlog of Magik Press gave away bags of art supplies, crayons and zines with four meditation exercises that involved drawing.

“Art connects the brain and heart,” she said, “and it’s good for everyone’s mental health.”