Volunteers drive Gift of Life’s men’s health drive success in Orange, beyond

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Gift of Life Medical Director Dr. Gwendolyn Lavalais was in Orange in May encouraging every man to come out and be checked.

“Have those blood tests done for cholesterol and diabetes and have blood pressure checks, because heart disease still is the No. 1 killer of all,” she said.

Lavalais spoke before the Orange City Council and to numerous other local interests about increased efforts that were planned in the summer of 2023.

Gift of Life medical volunteers Dr. Santos Soberon, Dr. John Fowler and Dr. Oscar Enriquez are pictured.

A few months later, she is calling the effort a success.

“Our goal is to target risk factors for the most dangerous diseases,” Lavalais said this month.

“For the many men with abnormal scores, we were able to triage them and provide follow-up care. But we could not have done this without you. You are the reason we are here tonight. Although, you may not always have the time, volunteers always have the heart to serve.”

Lavalais’ remarks came during a special volunteer recognition and appreciation dinner where nearly 100 volunteers were recognized.

Gift of Life leaders said in total 265 volunteers provided more than 5,500 total hours for Men’s Healthcare Screenings, resulting in the deliverance of care that included lab draws and results for PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests, primary care and HIV / HEP C screenings in addition to blood pressure and pulse oxygen levels with on-site physician consultations at locations in Orange, Beaumont, Kountze and Port Arthur.

Southeast Texas Food Bank President Harvey Zernial, Gift of Life Founder & Chair Regina Rogers, Quality Mat Company Owner Joe Penland and Gift of Life Executive Director Norma Sampson are all smiles.

Gift of Life continues to welcome volunteers who would like to make a difference.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, call 409-833-3663 or visit giftoflifebmt.org.

David Thompson shared his story with City of Orange leaders earlier this year on Men’s Health Awareness Day.

“I’m living proof of what Gift of Life is all about,” the prostate cancer survivor and Gift of Life patient said. “When I suffered problems ten plus years ago, I found I had prostate cancer.”

Thompson said from day one, Gift of Life provided support from the screening, to evaluation, to help finding a doctor, to surgery and post-surgery.

Gift of Life provides Southeast Texans with extensive cancer prevention educational outreach, free breast and prostate cancer screenings for eligible women and men and a tobacco prevention program that targets adults and children.