A program to help improve the health of farm families recently expanded into Waupaca County.
The Rural Health Initiative (RHI) collected $8,000 at its first fundraiser April 27 at Crystal Falls Banquet Hall in New London.
"All expenses were sponsored by people and organizations prior to the event, so 100 percent of the funds raised will go to serve farm families in Waupaca County," said Rhonda Strebel, RHI executive director. "For year one, this is awesome."
The Rural Health Initiative Inc. is a non-profit program designed to address growing concerns regarding the health and safety issues facing today's farm families.
At the center of this program is a registered nurse who makes house calls to farm families to provide health screening, information, education and referrals to area services.
The nurse also lends a trusted ear to the concerns and issues these families face today.
The program began serving farmers in Shawano County in 2003.
Since the program was initiated in Waupaca County in February, RHI nurse Shirley Yaeger, has made a total of 30 farm visits.
"I'm just really grateful for the program and hope other people can take advantage of it," said one RHI participant at the wine and cheese fundraiser in New London. "Shirley tailored the program to our needs. She was a wealth of information and cooperated with my family doctor at Thedacare Physicians."
"We love the program," said another participant. "Now we know where our numbers are for health reasons."
This participant (names withheld) said her numbers were excellent, but her husband was advised to lose weight. Because of Yaeger's visit, the farmer has started getting an annual checkup.
"I like the program because sometimes you need a little motivation to try to work at doing better," said another female participant.
"It's handy when you're busy around the farm and it's nice to know your scores," her husband added. "I hope they keep the program going."
Farm families and other agriculture workers can apply to the program by calling Strebel at 715-524-1488.
For more information about Rural Health Initiative, visit www.wiruralhealth.org.
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