Working from her small office in the Downtown Campus’ Family and Women’s Care area, Gloria Rosado is a driving force behind the popular La Belleza de Nuestra Salud community event, held for each of past nine years.
Geared to Reading and Berks County Latina women, the event was held in October in the main ballroom of the Abraham Lincoln Ballroom.
La Belleza de Nuestra Salud, which translates to “the Beauty of Our Health,” features educational speakers and presentations, beauty services including chair massages and hand treatments, health screenings, exhibits and food. All presentations and events are in Spanish.
Rosado, a Penn State Health St. Joseph OB/GYN social worker who serves on the committee that plans and organizes the event each year, said it’s a great deal of work, but all worthwhile.
“La Belleza is a health fair for Spanish speaking women, and it’s important to our community,” she said. “It lets people know what services are available and it brings people together.”
The ongoing opioid crisis was the theme of this year’s fair, with a panel discussion covering a variety of related topics. Dr. Janie Simmons, director of opioid overdose prevention initiatives or the Center of Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research, was the keynote speaker, presenting a Spanish version video about Naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug.
“We know that the opioid problem is a crisis, and we wanted to address that this year,” Rosado said. “In addition to Dr. Simmons, we had a panel of speakers and also therapists on hand to talk to patients and family members about opioid use and treatment.”
Hundreds of people attended the event, for which there is no cost.
Education is extremely important for the Latino community, explained Marlin Jusino-Bobe, a Penn State Health St. Joseph pediatric social worker, and the La Belleza event gives educators a chance to reach out to members of that community.
Jusino-Bobe works to help parents understand what services are available for children who are having trouble in school and need extra help.
“We realize that there’s a lot of need for special education for the children, and we want to help parents understand how to get help for that,” she said.
Also, Rosado explained, Latinas need to understand what health services are available, and why tests like mammograms and colonoscopies are important.
“Latinos need these services and this education, and they need to hear it in their native tongue,” she said. “If a person does not receive clear and concise medical instruction, it could have very serious consequences.”
Members of the Latino community are less likely to receive diagnostic screenings and tend to be diagnosed with serious diseases such as cancer later than members of some other ethnic groups.
While the theme of La Belleza de Nuestra Salud always deals with a serious issue, the tone of the event is fun.
Women get to catch up with one another, sharing news of their families, their jobs and their lives. They enjoy good food, get handouts from exhibitors and learn more about what’s happening in their communities.
With a number of community sponsors, including Penn State Health St. Joseph, the event has grown significantly since its start in 2010.
Rosado hopes La Belleza will be held next year at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Reading, as it was last year. That location was not available for this year’s event.
“We’re hoping that more and more people will get involved and the event will continue to grow,” Rosado said. “It’s an important resource for Latinas, and everyone looks forward to it.”