Highland Rotary Club sponsors second annual Healthy Highland Day

Ray Wilk of Highland donates blood at the drive held during the Highland Rotary's second annual Healthy Highland Day last Saturday. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Ray Wilk of Highland donates blood at the drive held during the Highland Rotary’s second annual Healthy Highland Day last Saturday. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

More than 20 different healthcare providers and purveyors of related services were at the Highland Rotary Club’s second annual Healthy Highland Day on Saturday, February 20 in the middle school gym. But in a day and age when one can just Google fitness advice and the names and addresses of healthcare practitioners, why attend a health and wellness fair? The answer, it turned out, is in the personal attention.

Hudson Valley Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center on Vineyard Avenue in Highland was represented by the facility’s administrator, Kate Costello, along with Barbara Doetsch, a nurse in charge of staff development, and Kathy Childs, admissions coordinator. With February being national Heart Health Month, their table featured large platters of dark chocolate-covered strawberries and grapes to sample; the latter more unusual but definitely well suited to being encased in chocolate. Accompanying literature described the health benefits of dark chocolate — which include nutritional content (fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese and copper), antioxidants, lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, increased protection from the hazards of the sun and improved brain function — but honestly, they had me at the taste of the chocolate-covered grapes. Their secret weapon (it was the first table I zeroed in on, after all) came thanks to Barbara Doetsch’s former career as a chocolatier.


Hudson Valley Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center offers short-term rehab or long term care to its residents in a pleasant neighborhood setting with landscaped grounds. Their services include a range of onsite health care programs and amenities. Contact hudsonvalleyrehab.com.

The Poughkeepsie Farm Project table was staffed by Vassar students Zoe Bracken, Isabel Morrison and Ellie Marble along with CIA student Sathia Sun, all of whom also work at the farm doing educational outreach and helping maintain the CSA program there. They had samples of colorful watermelon radish to try along with farm-fresh carrots, beets, just-picked spinach and kohlrabi to combine into a small portable salad (dressing provided).

The Poughkeepsie Farm Project CSA serves more than 500 households and offers educational programs for kids, primarily in first through fifth grade, educating them early to reinforce lifelong healthy eating habits. Kids get really excited when they can make the connection between their food and seeing where it’s grown, the students said, and parents are encouraged to cook with their kids so that the whole process of eating healthy just becomes a way of life. Contact farmproject.org.

The men holding the fort at the table for Mended Hearts, Inc. were at the health and wellness fair to let people know about their support group for those who have undergone open heart surgery. They’ve all been there themselves, and support each other as well as new patients about to undergo the path they’ve already traveled; a support group within a support group, one might say. The local Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter 5 of the Dallas-based organization was represented by Chapter 5 president, Joe Quagliano, and members Joe Gatto and Robert Renaud. Their services benefit patients seven days a week in more than 400 hospitals nationwide. And while doctors can let patients know what to expect when contemplating such serious surgery, “We’ll tell you what it’s really like,” promised Gatto. The group meets every other month with guest speakers at their meetings. Contact mendedhearts.org.

Various activities one can do to improve one’s health through lifestyle changes were represented at Healthy Highland Day by Oyama Karate from the hamlet, Hidden Haven Yoga of Clearwater Road in Highland and Honor’s Haven Resort & Spa of Ellenville. An “Eight Weeks to Wellness” program was promoted by Auerbach Chiropractic and Wellness Solutions of Highland and intuitive healer Shari Riley was available to speak with about the individual and group sessions she conducts in integrated energy therapy to help people rid themselves of emotional blocks.

The Alzheimer’s Association was at Healthy Highland Day to promote awareness of the signs of developing dementia. That organization is asking people to wear purple during the month of June to promote awareness of Alzheimer’s disorder and brain health, as are the Highland Rotary Club, who are requesting people wear purple on March 26 to support awareness of epilepsy. The color spectrum moved to red at the table for Highland’s American Legion Post 193 Women’s Auxiliary, who sold red t-shirts with a message about supporting our military troops, intended to be worn weekly on Red Shirt Fridays.

Christine Noble, a senior aging services aide for the Ulster County Office for the Aging, discussed the many options available for seniors through the agency. Some of their lesser known amenities include providing legal services at nominal cost by donation — an appointment can be made for Mondays or Wednesdays to have a lawyer help draw up a will or any other legal document for a suggested donation of $20-$50 — and transportation can be arranged through UCAT at no cost — once a week for grocery shopping and twice a week to a doctor’s appointment — or through a community volunteer program providing rides to seniors at no cost. There are health care counselors available, home-delivered meals for those in need of that service and help arranging a caregiver for elderly parents. Contact the Ulster County Office for the Aging at (845) 340-3456 or (877) 914-3456.

The event in Highland also included an American Red Cross blood drive.

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