Easter: A season of second chances


March 26, 2013 - 12:00 AM

The season of waiting is almost over. All the preparation will be rewarded.
No, not basketball.
But Easter. When Sunday morning promises to dawn with the Good News that Christ has come again.
The purpose of Lent is to teach us to be especially mindful of Jesus’ teachings and the significance of his death.
Easter is the most mysterious of celebrations with messages of new beginnings and second chances.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into the timing of the newly released county rankings by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, because despite the sobering news that Allen County ranks 86th of 102 counties, the good news is that as a county we are headed in the right direction.

LET’S TAKE STOCK of one of many things currently making a difference.
At the first of the year, funding was made available to provide 22 low-income women with wellness exams at the Southeast Kansas Multi-County Health Department in Iola. The tests include a pap smear, breast and pelvic exam, a test for sexually transmitted diseases, blood pressure screening, nutrition counseling and whether immunizations against tetanus and whatnot are current.
Information is also provided concerning birth control methods.
The exams are a step toward preventing a host of problems, including unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and visits to an emergency room.
In just two months, more than half of the free screenings have been utilized, said DeeDee Martin, chief nursing officer of the department.
Martin is especially pleased with two other projects the department has begun since a recent change in leadership.
One is fluoride treatment for low-income children where each tooth is “painted” with the compound  that helps fortify the enamel on the teeth and deter the development of cavities.
The biggest change for the department will be the administration of the Women, Infants and Children program.
“We’re almost up and running with WIC,” Martin said.
Up until now these services have been available in Allen County only once a month through the Crawford County Health Department, which journeyed to Iola. Otherwise, Allen County qualifiers were required to make their way to Pittsburg.
Services include immunizations, well-baby checks, education on proper nutrition for infants, child growth assessments and basic lab work. On tap is a breast-feeding support program.
“Our motto is to do as much as we can because you never know when they’ll come back,” Martin said.
Martin estimates about 250 to 300 young families in Allen County benefit from WIC services.
Guessing most families have more than one child, that’s an outreach of at least 1,000 women and children.

IT’S PROGRAMS like these that remind us efforts to help the underserved do work and make a difference to us as whole.
These things don’t happen overnight. Ask DeeDee. Nor do they come easily. Ask any grant writer.
But I am thinking they are what Jesus meant that to be leaders, we must serve.

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