The spark for this summer’s “Annual Health and Wellness Fair” in the Bronx started forming in the mind of Dennis Stanberry, RN at Montefiore Moses Division, years ago when he was working in the hospital’s Emergency Department. “I was struck by the lack of basic healthcare knowledge and resources in the community. We had patients that had no idea of the relationship between obesity and diabetes,” he said. “Without basic knowledge of our bodies, it’s no surprise that Bronx residents fare poorly in so many healthcare indicators.”
The health fair is the latest effort in Stanberry’s record of giving back to his community. In 2014, he established non-profit Mocho Village after a birthday request for used books for his childhood school in Jamaica turned into something unexpected. “The response was beyond anything I could have imagined. We shipped 27 barrels of books!”
Mocho Village now recruits doctors and other healthcare professionals to travel to Jamaica to run summer camps and bring needed services to poor areas, and it has expanded its reach to New York City. When Stanberry speaks with children, he tells them, “I am a product of the same environment but look at all that I’ve accomplished. I didn’t learn to read until I was 14, but now I’m a Registered Nurse at one of New York’s best hospitals.”
Dedicated to the Bronx
Stanberry left Jamaica for the Bronx at age 24. While working construction, he took a nurses’ aide course at night and kept going until he earned his RN degree. In January 2005, he started working in Montefiore’s ED, where he spent five years before taking his current Recovery Room assignment. Throughout, Stanberry never stopped thinking about his experience in the ED and what he could do to address the health disparities that plague the Bronx.
In 2015, Stanberry reached out to the Bronx Borough President’s Office, Montefiore, and other health providers to put together the First Annual Health and Wellness Fair. “People are starved for information, so we recruited doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and others to participate.” Stanberry also hoped the fair would inspire the area’s youth: “We need to get home grown kids into healthcare professions so they can come back to the Bronx and work to improve the community’s health.” Last September the NAACP recognized him for this effort.
Planning is now underway for the Second Annual Health and Wellness Fair, scheduled for July 9 on 216th Street between Paulding and Bronxwood Avenues. As to future ventures, Stanberry would like to see Mocho Village expand into different chapters to promote education about healthcare at the grassroots level. His advice to others: “Feel free to take the Mocho Village model and use it in your own communities.”