By Katharine Booth
On Sunday, September 6th, Foundation of Hope hosted its first virtual health fair, streaming its panel discussion from the SoNo Collection in South Norwalk. Foundation of Hope plans to continue hosting such virtual health events until it is safe and in the community’s best interest to return to an in-person, open to the community format.
The live stream was available to the public through Foundation of Hope’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. These are:
The panel discussion featured three special guests, all whom generously give their time to help Foundation of Hope’s mission.
They were Dr. Dawn Hewitt, a certified Holistic Health Counselor; Wayne Winston, social justice activist and member of Foundation of Hope’s board of directors; and Roy Havranek, Media Director for Foundation of Hope, community outreach lead for the HOLA group, and a multi-disciplined engineer working for Lockheed Martin RMS Corporation.
Each speaker brought their own perspective into a wide-ranging discussion of current issues in public health, social justice and community activism.
Certified Holistic Health Counselor Dr. Dawn Hewitt spoke about the impacts of autoimmune diseases today. She approached this issue by relating her own experience being hospitalized for and recovering from Grave’s Disease, and cited common societal issues that can potentially make the body vulnerable to autoimmune diseases, such as lack of nutrition, pollution and stress.
She went on to discuss the broader impacts of today’s advertising industry and the marketing of unhealthy foods. Citing her past experience working at an ad agency, she explained how today, in her words, there is “a whole industry now working to make you hunger and thirst for things you don’t need.”
Dr. Hewitt addressed specifically the negative health impacts of refined sugars, food coloring and artificial sweeteners. She went so far as to explain the proliferation of artificial chemicals in children’s food as similar to “chemical experiments.”
She explained how high fructose corn syrup is causing unprecedented liver damage today, specifically non alcoholic fatty liver.
Dr. Hewitt then took listeners on a journey through the damaging processes of such chemicals through the human body, explaining how refined sugars can produce a false sense of hydration, thus leading to a “double duty” of dehydration in our bodies.
To bring it all home, she explained how a body used to these chemicals can feel a dramatic shock when deprived, leading to the temptation to seek out these products to feel better.
Conversely, she explained how a “clean” body can feel a notable shock when exposed to products with such chemicals.
Dr. Hewitt encourages avoiding these harmful chemicals and foods, and emphasized the importance of proper hydration, which can help flush out a body used to unhealthy chemicals, and to help stay cleaner and healthier on a daily basis.
(Please note: This information is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult a medical professional for medical advice.)
Wayne Winston, board member and media director for Foundation of Hope and social justice advocate, spoke about the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on our communities, and the current social justice struggles nationwide.
He spoke about how we’re all living in an unprecedented time because of COVID-19. He also explained how the pandemic, combined with current events and protests for racial justice, and social media have shown us how people see these events and society in many different ways.
In discussing the recent protests, Wayne Winston provided some historical context. He noted the great strides of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, and noted the accomplishments made for black social justice and the fight against segregation. However, Wayne Winston recognized the civil rights movement did not finish the work—there is more to be done today.
Foundation of Hope Founder Rebecca Prosper asked Wayne what we can do to help the ongoing crisis. He replied that it is crucial to understand the troubled, racist foundation of our country to change things now.
Turning back to the present day, Wayne challenged two prevailing social attitudes undermining the struggle for racial justice. He questioned the mentality of excusing police conduct and blaming victims, as well as the concept of “bad apples” within police force. Wayne Winston argued that police departments’ moving of and shielding offenders is reminiscent of how the Catholic Church moved and shielded child abusers within its ranks.
He argued these attitudes and actions serve to excuse those responsible for the worst acts of police brutality we’ve seen in recent times.
Wayne Winston closed his portion of the panel discussion by stating, “We have to have conversations, and people need to have ears to hear us.”
Roy Havranek, Media Director for Foundation of Hope and community outreach lead for the HOLA group, discussed current issues of supporting young children and education in the time of COVID-19.
He spoke of how COVID-19 has created a “global trauma” for children, who have been kept from attending school and socializing with other children. In this context, he described his own efforts with HOLA, in partnership with Foundation of Hope, to provide educational supplies for children in our local communities.
This past August marked the second annual Back to School Supply Drive, which involved collecting donations from the public for backpacks and essential school supplies for local underpriviliged children.
He explained that, rather than donations being hindered by COVID-19, the group actually received double their set goal for donations. Their initial goal was to fill 20 backpacks, but they in fact collected 40 backpacks. Roy Havranek took this as a sign of hope that people today truly want to help children caught up in the many struggles brought on by COVID-19.
While working to provide basic school supplies for the children involved, the drive made a point of meeting the moment of COVID-19, by providing children with hand sanitizer and masks, to help raise awareness and encourage children to be mindful of basic health and sanitation practices.
Roy Havranek reflected on the rewarding nature of these efforts, saying how it was fulfilling just to see the looks on the children’s faces when receiving their donated backpacks.
This event was unlike anything Foundation of Hope has ever done before. We hope to reach a point soon when we can safely hold our larger-scale Honor Your Health community fairs. In the meantime, we are committed to being safe and mindful of the current reality of COVID-19, and will continue to host further virtual Hope Conversations live stream events.