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East County Wednesday, May 1, 2019 2 years ago

Peace of mind and body

Peace Presbyterian to hold its first health and wellness fair.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

Toni Muirhead, a volunteer with Peace Presbyterian Church, thinks being a single mother taught her a lot about empathy.

“The help wasn’t there that I wish I had,” she said.

That’s part of what inspired her to begin organizing the church’s first Health and Wellness Fair, scheduled for May 4.

Peace Presbyterian pastor Rev. Elizabeth Deibert said part of the church’s mission is to build community and care for the needs of others. Those things, she said, transcends barriers and differences of faith, Deibert said.

“(The fair) is not just for us,” she said.  “It’s for everyone in the community.”

At the church’s wellness fair, about 30 vendors will provide information and resources about the services they offer. The fair is is open to to the public. Vendors include Manatee County Libraries, Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Turning Points and more.

As someone who worked in the medical field for more than 20 years, Muirhead said she understands the needs of caring for the body. As an oncology massage therapist, she specializes in providing massages catered to the specific needs of someone undergoing cancer treatment. Mentally, the massages can provide stress relief, and they can also ease physical symptoms such as neuropathy.

That career is how she heard a talk 10 years ago about how churches can help bring awareness to health care services and community needs and how their congregations can become “first responders” to guiding individuals to the services they need.  

Muirhead, who lives in Parrish, began attending the church about six years ago when she moved from the Fort Lauderdale area. She had a passion to help others,  and the idea she had 10 years ago resurfaced after she attended a different wellness fair last year. She walked around the fair, collected vendor business cards and talked with vendors about bringing a wellness fair to Peace Presbyterian.

Deibert echoed Muirhead’s motivations.

“We’re really interested in the whole person,” Deibert said, noting that she wants her congregation to invest in its wellness by connecting mind, body and spirit.

For the first fair, Muirhead hopes for at least 100 people to attend. She said she considers success to be not only connecting people to health resources, but also for visitors to learn how they can connect with their community.

All in all, Muirhead said organizing the event has been a positive experience.

“It was kind of fun to connect with all of them,” she said about gathering all of the vendors.

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