Where can you sample craft-brewed beer, get your blood pressure checked and help raise money for a group of student nurses to go to Central America next month to build a home for an impoverished family?
That place would be Riverside Foods, 48 E. Burlington St. in Riverside. On Saturday, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the grocery store will host a fall health event that will combine free health screenings, free product samples and bundle it with assisting the Belize Service Project, an outreach program founded in 1999 by Rush University’s Student Nurse Association.
On Nov. 30, a group of 13 people – nine students and four faculty members – will be heading down to Belize bearing boxes of educational materials, school supplies and more. They will spend the next week and a half building a 14-by-16-foot home (yes, you read that right) for a family in that country.
“It’s just shelter, because they are so often hit by hurricanes,” said Tami Davis, a veteran nurse and faculty member at Rush University who is leading the Belize Service Project effort. She took over this year from Paula Jo Belice, a longtime Riverside resident who helped pioneer the program more than a decade ago.
The trip to Belize is part immersion experience for the nurses and an opportunity to be part of a service project. The nurses won’t be providing health services. Rather, it’s service of another, humanitarian sort.
The group from Rush University needs to come up with the entire cost of the materials to build the house and purchase other supplies they are taking with them. In all, the goal is to raise $5,000 and the group has held several fundraisers to help them achieve that goal.
Jerry “Mike” Garbis, owner of Riverside Foods has wanted to do health screenings at the store for a while now. With his girlfriend, Davis, heading up the Belize Service Project, Garbis said it was a perfect opportunity to create a special event around that effort.
“This is the first time we’re trying anything like this,” Garbis said. “They were looking for sites for fundraisers, so we just put two and two together, and it’s snowballing into a pretty big thing.”
Student nurses from Rush will, weather permitting, be doing health screenings outdoors, while some of the grocery store’s vendors – Boar’s Head (paninis), Local Folks (salsa and sauces), Chiquita (healthy snacks), Home Run Inn (veggie pizza), Schoop’s (frozen yogurt) and Burke Beverage (craft brew tastings) — will be scattered throughout the store, offering samples of products.
In addition, vendor Indianapolis Fruit is donating taffy apples, which will be sold to raise money for the Belize Service Project. The store is also raffling off a $100 gift card and 100 percent of money raised from the sales of pumpkins that day will also go toward funding the trip to Belize. Visitors can also give donations to the group.
There is no need to register for the health screenings, Garbis said.