Diabetes Forecast

Volunteer Unites ADA and Lions Club for Latino Health

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Diana Castillo brings two organizations together to help her community.

Diana Castillo doesn't have diabetes. Neither does anyone in her family. But when the opportunity arose for the Lions Club of Miami to get involved with the American Diabetes Association, she jumped at the chance.

Castillo, 55, of Miami, says she just wants to help other people, and diabetes awareness has been sorely lacking in her community, particularly among her fellow Latinos. So Castillo, the district governor for Lions Club International, branched out to volunteer with the first Feria de Salud in Miami. Feria is a free health fair specifically designed to reach out to Latino/Hispanic communities to educate people about diabetes risks and care. Since then, the Lions Club has sponsored diabetes screenings annually at the Miami Feria.

"We have found there's a lot of need before you do the screening, [but] the main problem is after," Castillo says. "Most of the people that come for the screening, they don't have insurance. Some of them have a high number, and where do they go? They don't know."

Castillo believes Feria events can help improve health community-wide—especially in prevention of type 2 diabetes. "Feria is a great opportunity given to the community," she says. "There's a lot of education, and the earlier they can find out if they have diabetes, they can prevent a lot of things, like blindness."

Now serving on the ADA's Miami-Dade County Por Tu Familia committee, Castillo works to make sure people have access to testing, education, and support in their diabetes care. Her work with the two organizations continues to overlap—the Lions Club has programs focusing specifically on health and vision, both locally and internationally. At Feria events, Castillo arranges for eye screenings and free prescription glasses, says Betty Gomez Galan, programs director at the ADA's Miami office.

Those relationships have helped strengthen diabetes outreach in Miami. The Lions Club now operates the only diabetes day camp in Miami-Dade County. "She is of great value to the community and is always willing to help," Gomez Galan says. "Thanks to Diana, our office has a great working relationship with the Lions Club."

As she gets more involved with both the Association and the Lions Club, Castillo hopes to provide more diabetes education to the community. She's in the planning stages of building a diabetes section in Miami's public libraries. Her involvement with the ADA has been eye-opening, she says.

"I feel sad and happy at the same time, because I feel very happy that I can help, even if it's a little, but I feel sad when I see the level of poverty and need from some of the people," she says. "It's changed my life, I would say."



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