SoN Students Strive to Improve the Lives and Strengthen the Communities of Incarcerated People and Their Loved Ones

Friday, October 13, 2017

San Quentin Health Fair on October 13, 2017. Front row, left to right: Margaret Voung, Lupita Estrada, Larry Vitale, Brianna Garcia, Loren Corella, Julianna Mills, Jasmine Chen, Nicole Lopez. Back row, left to right: Kristina Engstrom, Chidera Nwadike, Caralisa Lacson , Morgan Ducey, Kirsty Patterson, Colin Dilts , Kimberly Blakiston , Melva Carvajal, Michael Saunders, Tuyet Ton.

The San Quentin Health Fair first started in 2004 and has now become an annual event at the State Prison. The goals of the event are stated to:

  • Improve the health of incarcerated men
  • Inform incarcerated men about health issues and health promotion
  • Encourage preventive health practices among incarcerated men
  • Encourage men to become health advocates within their sphere of influence, especially within their families and communities

Participation in the event provided a benefit to students as well. Invariably, students comment how the event was an eye-opener and really changed their viewpoint toward this largely hidden population. Many students come again and some continue to volunteer long after graduation. The event is now organized primarily by Centerforce (a California-based nonprofit organization that strives to improve the lives and strengthen the communities of incarcerated people and their loved ones) and the San Quentin TRUST Fellows, with continued support from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), and many other volunteers. (T.R.US.T. is an acronym for Teaching Responsibilities Utilizing Sociological Training. The mission of San Quentin Trust is to motivate, educate, prepare and assist men in prison for release to their communities).

Larry Vitale RN, Senior Lecturer, has coordinated our student involvement in the San Quentin Health Fair since he began teaching here in 2007. Before that, as a Public Health Nurse in the ACPHD, he was involved with organizing the health fair and was present at the very first event in 2004. Each year more of our nursing students express an interest in participating in the event, and each year the number of our students volunteering has increased to the point that we are now providing the majority of health screening services for the hundreds of inmates that participate in the event.

Thank you to all of our students and graduates that are making this annual event a success!