“We would be in a bind,” said Kim Gordon. “My son would not be in school.” Her son Yumari is scheduled to enter kindergarten at Bren Mar Park Elementary in one week. Fairfax County Public Schools require new students to take a physical exam before enrolling. Gordon said it would take weeks to get an appointment with a doctor.
But Yumari will be enrolling on time. This Saturday, he and about 130 other children from southern Fairfax County came to the South County Government Center, where 120 volunteers, including nine doctors, 26 nurses, and seven soldiers from Fort Belvoir’s 169th Engineer Battalion (Echo Company), were on hand to test eyesight, hearing, urine and blood, as well as weigh, measure, immunize and check the blood pressure of incoming students with no health insurance. Escorts helped families move from station to station, often interpreting for them. Families also met with representatives from Partnership for Health to learn more about the healthcare options that may be available to them.
Bonnie Lilley, one of the main organizers of the event, said she had been working on it for the last six months. She praised the members of the military who had come out to help. In addition to eight soldiers from Fort Belvoir, plus other civilians, there were volunteers representing the Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard.
ELODIA ZAVALA, an immigrant from Mexico, came to the clinic with her daughter Linda, 5. Linda will be entering kindergarten at Mount Vernon Woods in September. Volunteer Cristina Schoendorf escorted Zavala and Linda through every station. “It’s very well run,” she said, “so it’s easy to step in and volunteer.”
Amid the throngs of wailing children, soothing parents, smiling volunteers and bustling nurses Linda stoically endured every stage of the physical with barely a change in expression. Except for a failed vision test, she seemed to coast through the physical. “She did well,” her mother said.