HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — The Marshall University Minority Health Institute received a $1 million dollar check from UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia Thursday, Oct. 14.

“We are coming alongside Marshall University Minority Health Institute and we are investing in their efforts…We’re going to address social determinants of health and we’re going to focus on the most vulnerable communities in West Virginia,” says Tadd Haynes, president of UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia.

“Even though minorities and vulnerable populations, particularly African Americans, is a small proportion of the larger population of West Virginia, they continue to bear disproportionately the burden of health disparities,” says Dr. Anthony Woart, founder and director of the Marshall University Minority Health Institute.

Organizers are working toward increasing access to healthcare services through Marshall University Minority Health Institute’s third annual West Virginia Minority Health Fair—which is sponsored by UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia. The West Virginia Minority Health Fair was founded by LaDawna Walker Dean, program coordinator of the MU Minority Health Institute.

“What a health fair does is to also bring awareness of health promotion, and so we have vendors that are here to address some of the issues we have in the community,” Woart says.

“This is an excellent example of the type of activities that the institute will be continuing to offer in our community,” says Jerome Gilbert, president of Marshall University.

Not only is the health fair aimed at spreading awareness about healthcare services, but it’s also providing free vaccinations and testing.

“I think this is great. I think there are lots of things that happen in this town that people know nothing about. And I think having a fair and having people set up and have giveaways will bring people here and give them some knowledge that they might need,” says Sandra Clements, who attended the West Virginia Minority Health Fair.

“I think it will help us to increase our awareness in the community to let them know that we are available and this service is of benefit to them,” says Charise Lindsey, CEO of Lifeseeds Development Group.

The fair showcases 28 organizations with some offering free flu and COVID vaccination as well as COVID testing.