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Group to host community festival

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The annual Community for Unity Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and will provide access to health care, food, clothing and entertainment for local residents.

The main event, which is primarily organized and sponsored by the Joy Community Development Corp., will be held at 1523 Boone St. in Rocky Mount. Greater Joy Baptist Church, Word Tabernacle Church, Nash County Senior Services Division and NC MedAssist are among some of the organizations partnering with Joy Community Development Corp. in hosting this event.

“Joy Community Development Corp. is a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of the citizens of Nash, Edgecombe, Halifax counties and surrounding areas,” said Kalela Terry, a member of the board of the organization. “We aim to provide free health care and social services to citizens in undeserved communities. One of the ways that we accomplish this goal is through our annual Community for Unity Festival.”

The organization usually holds a similar festival in Halifax County each September, Terry said.

Terry said the festival offers something for all age groups from bounce houses for children to a senior expo for more mature community members. Last year, roughly 3,500 people attended the event, and organizers expect even more this year.

“We offer free food, clothing give-aways and entertainment,” Terry said. “Several of the participating churches will have choirs and individuals performing. And there will be dance teams performing as well.”

The festival also offers access to free medications and medical care. A medical bus and a dental bus will be available for treatment of people who have registered in advance. Vision screenings and health checks also will be available at the festival.

Terry said roughly 150,000 boxes of free over-the-counter medications will be available to anyone age 18 and over attending the festival. These medications include cough and cold remedies, allergy pill and nasal sprays, pain relievers, digestive aids, vitamins, skin treatments and medications for children. Other available items may include sleep aids, pregnancy tests, reading glasses and canes.

The medication give-away will not be held at the Boone Street park location, but will be within walking distance at 322 Anderson St. in the old fellowship hall of Greater Joy Baptist Church. Medications will be given away from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to meeting the needs of the community, the Community for Unity Festival is also designed to bring diverse groups of people together and to foster relationships between the community and law enforcement officers. Both Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone and Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson plan to be there, Terry said.

Above all, the event is free, Terry said, though participants are encouraged to bring in one can of food for the food bank if they can.

“All of these services are offered for free to the attendees. There is absolutely no selling allowed on the grounds during the festival,” Terry said. “This is our time to give back to the community and assist with bridging the gaps between the citizens, law enforcement agencies, organizations and the community as a whole.”

This year’s event will be held regardless of rain or hot weather, Terry said.