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Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program Distributes Free Masks and Sanitizers to Seniors
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published April 16, 2020

Dr. Bill Releford, right, shows the face-masks and sanitizers to, from left, Baz Devlia and Thomas Uwal, both of the Inglewood Senior Citizens Center. (Courtesy photo)

The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program (BBHOP) continues to distribute free face-masks and hand sanitizers to L.A.–area senior citizens as part of its effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease among this vulnerable group.

On April 9, Dr. Bill Releford, BBHOP founder, and organization members provided more than 700 masks and sanitizers to the Inglewood Senior Citizen Center. The items were dispersed to 500+ seniors who regularly receive lunch deliveries from the center.

According to Human Services Superintendent Thomas Uwal, their clients were appreciative because they have been prohibited from attending the center under the governor’s social distancing directives. Also, the supplies were distributed to the center’s staff and drivers.

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“For Dr. Releford and BBHOP to come and share the free masks and sanitizers is very important. We think it’s great,” said Uwal. “Our seniors can’t wait to come back into the building. But, right now, we’re telling them to stay home until it is safe.”

Also, BBHOP donated more than 300 face-masks and sanitizers to the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center. Releford said that Sandra Evers Manly, BHERC founder, partnered with the Black Nurses Association to distribute the items to seniors, along with free dinners, on Easter Sunday, April 12.

The latest distributions marked the third time that BBHOP conducted the free allocations. Previously, the group shared the free items with seniors in Inglewood and South L.A. on March 27 and April 3.

“We’ve found that many senior citizens are at disproportionately higher risk for hypertension, diabetes and succumbing to complications for COVID-19. So, we decided to retool some of the things that we use everyday – like aftershave, which contains alcohol – to reuse as hand sanitizer. We’ve been very fortunate to collaborate with the Inglewood Senior Citizen Center and BHERC to provide this items,” explained Releford.

Releford has practiced as a podiatric surgeon specializing in amputation prevention and wound care for nearly 35 years. Since he founded the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program in 2006, the initiative has screened more than 30,000 African American men for diabetes and high blood pressure in over 750 Black-owned barbershops across the nation.

“The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program is the only national barbershop-based health advocacy organization in the country,” said Releford. “Our mission is to screen and educate over one million men by the year 2025.”

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Categories: COVID-19 | Health | Local
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