Fun, games at health fair

Anna Crook: Staff photo David Briseno, director of outreach for the Portales La Casa, was dunked Saturday at the annual La Casa health fair as a joke by 17-year-old volunteer September Northrip.

Anna Crook: Staff photo
David Briseno, director of outreach for the Portales La Casa, was dunked Saturday at the annual La Casa health fair as a joke by 17-year-old volunteer September Northrip.

By Anna George
Staff writer
ageorge@pntonline.com

Kimberly Bates and her 3- and 5-year-old sons went to La Casa’s health fair to get their child wellness check-ups and immunizations Saturday, but the children were more entertained by Sparky the fire dog.
Sparky is the mascot at the Cannon Air Force Base Fire Department, which participates in the event. They have been attending the fair for several years, said Bruce Ford, assistant chief of fire prevention.

The La Casa Health Fair celebrates National Health Center Week. As part of this week, La Casa offered free immunizations, well-child exams, sports physicals and dental exams. The fair also featured booths from local businesses and organizations such as the Early Childhood Services and Mental Health Resources, Inc.

“We do it like a family fun night,” said Krystal Gutierrez, a registered nurse at La Casa. The fair also included fun and games for children, including a bouncy castle, a dunk tank and several give-aways donated from the community.
Bates said she brought her kids because she trusts La Casa and believes the immunizations are important.

“These diseases get spread easily through daycare and classes,” said Bates, a speech therapist for the Clovis school district.
Latasha Ulibarri, a stay home mother of three, shares Bates’ trust of La Casa. Ulibarri said her children have been treated by La Casa doctors since birth. Earlier in the summer, her kids received well-child exams, but they came to the fair for fun, she said.

Nicolas Lavalle, 9, shared in the fun by winning a football in a give-away. Nicolas came with his siblings and mother to enjoy the fair.
“The community is really good about donating prizes and coming out to help,” said La Casa CEO Seferino Montano. La Casa received donations of bikes, an iPad Mini, and gift cards.

A sense of community seemed to be a theme at the fair. Kaylamarie Guthals, an employee at Mental Health Resources, Inc, said the fair allowed the businesses to have a real connection with the community.
“We are one of the only mental health resources in the area, so it is very important to put a name to a face,” Guthals said.
The community is at the center of the whole project, Montano said. The mission of the health fair is to convince the community to come out, get healthy, and have fun, he said.

“The point is to let the people know we are here to serve them,” Montano said.