‘Touched Twice’ free health screening offered just in time to help flood victims

September 8, 2018

Touched Twice is happening at the right time for residents hurt by flooding.

The free health care event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds in Portage is open to everyone. It provides diabetes screenings, blood pressure readings, sports physicals, health education and referrals, chiropractic care, dental screenings and spa services like haircuts and mini massages.

But take-home food, clothing, sign-ups for beds provided by local nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, information about temporary housing from River Haven Shelter and support from local pastors might serve even bigger needs for some attendees.

“It feels providential to me that this event is happening at a time where there’s such a need from flooding,” said Dr. Kevin Blau, whose business, Blau Family Chiropractic and Integrated Wellness, launched the free health care event last year. “We’re here for them and hopefully they make connections if they don’t have anyone, if they feel alone or afraid, whatever they might be feeling.

“I can only imagine what I’d feel like if I lost my home.”

Last year, the event served 150 people, and organizers expect to see at least double that amount in the event’s second year. Right now the event only has about 40 volunteers signed up, Blau estimated, and could use more than 100 new volunteers. There were about 100 volunteers last year.

“Right now the hardest thing is many people still don’t know about the event,” Blau said. “People (in the Portage area) know about it, but we’re trying to spread the word” beyond the immediate area. “What’s unique about this is you’ll have an advocate with you the whole time, to make sure you’ll receive services you need for the day.”

Agencies scheduled to attend Touched Twice include Columbia County Health and Human Services, Aging and Disability Resource Center, Pregnancy Resource Center, St. Vincent de Paul, Renewal Unlimited, FoodShare Employment and Training, Prevention and Response Columbia County, Central Wisconsin Community Action Council and more.

River Haven Shelter Case Manager Cindy LeGrand, who’s coordinating agency participation for Touched Twice, encourages anyone impacted by flooding to contact River Haven at 608-742-7687. River Haven programming provides help in various areas, including rent, medical expenses and housing.

“Please call us if you need help with anything,” said LeGrand, who also hopes to add American Red Cross and Salvation Army to the list of attendees at Touched Twice.

Pastors attending the event come from churches including Portage Presbyterian, City of Refuge Church in Portage and Assembly of God in Cross Point.

“It’s not counseling as much as listening,” said Portage Presbyterian Church minister Dave Hankins of his presence at the event. “It’s about letting people share their grief, their loss, because in many respects, when a person has suffered (property) loss, they go through many of the same grieving steps as they would from the loss of a loved one.”

Assembling so many resources in one place, at one time, is the best part of Touched Twice, Hankins added.

“We’re not here to save you or anything like that – we’re here to respond to the needs of the people.”

Clothing donations may be dropped off at City of Refuge Church (located next to Spinning Wheels Skate Center on East Haertel Street) from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Touched Twice volunteers will meet for the last time at the fairgrounds at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, which is open to “anyone who feels a need to know what’s going on,” Blau said.

Volunteers on Wednesday will unload food boxes from delivery trucks, among other tasks. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up prior to the event, but organizers welcome day-of volunteers too. All volunteers are asked to arrive as early as 9 a.m. at the fairgrounds Sept. 15.