Over the weekend, community doctors, medical clinics and others came together to provide a healthcare fair for the homeless and underprivileged.

The Clyburn Center's Director of Outreach and Community Services, Gail Diggs, said she chose Gyles Park for the fair's location because homeless people who stay in a nearby shelter often gather there during the day. 

"I thought it best to meet them where they are," Diggs said. "I ride by this area on a regular basis. I stopped over, had a conversation with them, let them know who I was and what I wanted to do. And they were so thankful."

The event, Healthcare for the Homeless, took place Saturday afternoon. Volunteers provided hygiene supplies, medical screenings, housing assistance and a free hot meal. They helped with voter registration, gave pedicures and donated clothing.

Some of the volunteers were professionals, like Nadia Fazel who is a dentist at the Clyburn Center.

"Today were mostly doing screenings and information services," Fazel said. "So basically, if they come and they haven't been to a dentist in a long time, we can give them medical advice."

Fazel, who worked in the Clyburn Center's mobile unit, said they weren't providing treatment at the fair. However, they would consult with patients about treatment options.

Other volunteers were much younger, like girls from the local group Issaunicorn, who put together and distributed care packages.

"We want them to see how – I don't want to say less fortunate – but how fortunate they (the girls) are," said Domonique Smith, one of the group's leaders. "They have the same opportunities, but sometimes life takes a different turn."

Healthcare for the Homeless kicks off National Health Centers Week in Aiken. The Clyburn Center and other Rural Health Services centers will be offering community events throughout the week to celebrate and to raise awareness about their services.

"We don't turn anyone away for their inability to pay," Diggs said. 

For more information, call the Clyburn Center at 803-380-7000.

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.