Each year as the date for the Potter’s Clay Health Fair nears, Irene Ison makes her rounds to secure vendors for the event that her outreach program offers free to the public.
It’s sometimes a thankless, or at least, an underappreciated job.
But that doesn’t slow Ison down, nor does her declining health. It’s been 14 years now since the first Potter’s Clay, an outreach program for the elderly and shut-ins, was held at St. Mark Catholic Church. It has now expanded to fill much of the Ada Wright Center.
“I’ve been associated with Potters Clay since I joined the church,” recalls Dr. Al Brandon, a longtime volunteer at the health fair.
“Irene has, ever since I’ve been with the health fair, been the workhorse. She’s the one that sets everything up and gets everything organized and in place,” he said, noting that Ison organizes the event while essentially confined to a wheelchair.
“She keeps working at the same pace, it’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “She’s the glue that keeps everything in place.
Brandon added that Ison starts working on next year’s heath fair almost as soon as the current year ends.
“She starts immediately planning on the next one. She puts on 25-30 hours a week.”
From her home at Kingwood Arms, Ison prints and mails thank you letters to exhibitors and letting them know she will be in contact for the next year.
The Potters Clay started in 2005 to bring joy to the elderly, lonely and in nursing homes, Ison explained. Later that year, the first heath fair was started. About 12 professionals offered blood sugar screens, BP checks and the likes.
This year over 40 tables will be set for vendors who range from vein checks to drug awareness presentations to even dentist checkups for oral cancer and CPR demonstrations.
Services offered include ear, nose and throat screening, identification fingerprinting for children, information on child and elder abuse prevention, presentations from Coffee County Sheriff, Manchester Police and Fire departments and CPR/first aid demonstrations.
Flu shots will be available for $10 each to those 18 and older.