The Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation (CPRF) increased its campaign to improve the health L.A.-area residents by urging churches to spread the wellness message with their congregations.
Hosting a community gathering on June 27, CPRF president Dr. Kathye Jenkins and the group’s Witness2Fitness team held an open meeting with pastors and representatives of more than 40 houses of worship. CPRF’s goal was to connect churches with information and resources for healthy, spiritual and sustainable living.
“We have brought together faith leaders, healthcare providers and other agencies to consider being part of a sustainable development agenda to improve health and wellness,” said Jenkins in her opening remarks.
“Black churches have a long legacy of advancing change in communities and we want to assist them in using their platform to become champions in addressing health disparities and sharing other tools to educate, equip , empower and engage your members.”
The meeting featured presentations by Mary L. Zavala of L.A. County’s Homeless Incentive Program (HIP), Pastor Darnell Jones, Sr. of First Missionary Baptist Church and Dipa Shah-Patel, director of the county’s Department of Public Health Nutrition and Physical Activity Program. Also, Nneoma Duruhesie-Ogudoro led attendees in Wazobia dance exercise.
In light of the housing crisis in L.A., Zavala said the county offers incentives to property owners who rent to veterans or accept Section 8 vouchers. Through HIP, qualified landlords can receive up to one month’s rent to hold vacant units, free referrals to fill vacancies, expedited housing inspections and reliable rental payments. “If landlords are interested, we encourage them to apply for this project,” said Zavala. “The application is simple and easy to fill out.”
Jones, who emphasized the importance of establishing health ministries in churches, noted, “People are going through all sorts of health issues that really could be avoided with a little knowledge. The scripture refers to ‘we are perishing for a lack of knowledge’ and that is a fact. A lot of things that we do are really self-inflicted.”
Recalling his own health scare, Jones said 15 years ago, he was diagnosed with high cholesterol and pre-diabetes due to his poor eating habits. He changed his diet, incorporated regular exercise into his lifestyle and now he doesn’t take any medications.
“I took the sugar out of my diet, stopped sprinkling so much salt on my food and began walking and working out. I have learned, as a pastor, that I need health ministries operating in my church. Our members need the information because many of us are suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol issues,” said Jones.
Agreeing that health and wellness is vital, Shah-Patel stressed that the “Department of Public Health is committed to preventing disease and promoting health for everyone.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Jenkins encouraged faith leaders to designate the second Sunday of each month as Witness2Fitness Day. She added that CPRF can provide bulletin inserts on various health topics to educate parishioners.
Also, she acknowledged the support of her husband, the Rev. Dr. James A. Jenkins, as well as Witness2Fitness chair Ronnell Nichols, co-chair Virginia D. Stephens and team members Carolyn Faulkner, Nia Parker, Loretta Patterson-Johnson, Janet Powers-White, Fredicka Santee, Kathleen Nola Thomas, Dorothy Moseley, Esther Askew, Terry Moore-Jones, Prudence Wright, Jacquelyn Darby and Jacquelyn Hammond.
To the pastors and church representatives, Jenkins said, “We need your help in bringing about change in our communities and making a difference in the lives of the people you serve.”
To learn more about Witness2Fitness, call CPRF at (310) 567-4231.