The health fair offers free tests, consultations and vaccinations for Hispanic residents

About seven local organizations came together on Saturday with the same goal in mind: to provide health care services to the Hispanic community of Gainesville.

The health fair was held from 8 a.m. to noon at the Parkview Baptist Church, located at 3403 NW 13th St. Alongside the church, the event was organized and sponsored by Children Beyond Our Borders (CBOB), Tu Fiesta Radio, Mundo Sano, Equal Access Clinic, local mobile clinic and continuity of the UF project.

It was conducted in Spanish and English and targeted the Hispanic community by offering services without the need for documentation or payment. They offered dates or dates.

Community members had free access to health examinations, vaccinations, consultations and cancer screening tests, among other health care services.

The fair takes place every three months, said Maria Eugenia Zelaya, executive director of CBOB.

“Sometimes our kids, especially in the Hispanic and Latino community, don’t get the support they need to move forward,” Zelaya said.

The CBOB was the main organizer of the event. The organization began 20 years ago in Colombia with the help of four UF students, Zelaya said. The fairs started in the town of Alachua in 2016, she said, but the majority of people attending were from Gainesville, so they moved last year.

Zelaya has been the principal of CBOB since 2020, but began volunteering with the program in 2011. She works full-time as a teacher at Eastside High School but dedicates as much time as possible to the mission of CBOB.

At each fair, organizations sit at individual tables to provide information on their practices and services.

Ricardo Chavez, a sophomore UF medical school, is the coordinator who works with the Equal Access Clinic to provide health care services for the fair.

Chavez, 25, said the purpose of the fair is to help patients avoid medical emergencies that could be costly.

“The most important thing is that we try to emphasize preventative medicine,” he said.

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To focus on diagnosing problems and avoiding medical bills, Chavez said, the fair is completely free and does not require any ID or registration documents.

Sable Borrow, deputy director of the UF Health Cancer Center, said the center works closely with Project Continuity, an organization working with local communities and clinics to prevent cancer.

Borrow said the goal of the project is to increase evidence-based cancer screenings. They offer examinations for colorectal, breast and cervical cancer.

She also described the clinic’s efforts to create meaningful relationships with patients.

“We’re trying to simplify appointment booking by having an app in Spanish, as well as connecting patients with bilingual staff members,” Borrow said.

This weekend was the second time María Osorio, a 39-year-old Gainesville resident who moved to the city a year ago, attended the fair with her family.

Osorio is grateful for CBOB’s free clinics and her tutoring program for Hispanic children who need help in school, which her two daughters attend, she said.

“They see me quickly and they’re very nice,” Osorio said.

Osorio visits the clinic to get tested and interact with the community, she said. Events like this help the Latin American community come together. She is also part of several local Facebook, Whatsapp and Telegram groups where community members share information and resources.

María Torres, a UF graduate student majoring in medical physiology and pharmacology, said it’s crucial to keep people informed about the resources provided by groups like CBOB.

Since last fall, Torres, 25, has been helping out as a volunteer assistant for the CBOB health initiative. She has been volunteering since the August session of the fair. Due to the start of the school year, Torres said, the fair focused on children and the physical tests they needed for the new school year.

It was the fourth time Parkview Baptist Church hosted the fair, senior pastor Jesus Garcia said.

CBOB is working on additional projects for the Hispanic community, such as tutoring for children called “Triunfadores”, English classes for adults, and a new health podcast with Tu Fiesta radio called “Café CBOB”.

The next health fair will be held at the church in May, where residents will once again be able to turn to medical support from these organizations.

Contact Valentina and Nicole at and Follow them on Twitter @valesrc and @nicolebeltg.

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Valentina Sandoval

Valentina Sandoval is a sophomore journalism major and editor for El Caimán. Whenever she’s not writing, she’s expanding her Animal Crossing island, creating Spotify playlists, or convincing someone to follow her dog on Instagram.

Nicole Beltran

Nicole Beltrán is a first-year journalism and economics student working for El Caimán. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, journaling and listening to musicals.

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