Schools having ‘Hats Off’ days to aid health center
Apr 1, 2023
DECISIONS, DECISIONS — A just-for-fun time of trying on some hats made Amy Parikakis, left, and Ann Quillen, executive director of the Ohio Valley Health Center, 423 South St., Steubenville, all the more excited about the center’s upcoming 17th-annual fundraiser gala set for April 30 at St. Florian Event Center in Wintersville to the theme “Hats Off to OVHC — Hope, Health and Healing.” -- Janice Kiaski
STEUBENVILLE — Whether it’s a favorite ball cap, decorated toboggan, cowboy hat or an original design, students from several schools in the area will be donning headwear on special days this week in a show of support for the Ohio Valley Health Center at 423 South St., Steubenville.
Amy Parikakis is coordinating the “Hats Off to the Ohio Valley Health Center” initiative through the end of the month, with other schools welcome to get on board and contact her at (740) 317-7431 to do so or get information.
An established “Hat Day” offers students an opportunity to wear a hat for a $1 donation to the health center.
Participating this week are students at Steubenville High School, orchestrated by its Key Club, and Pugliese West Elementary School, both of which will be on Wednesday. Toronto City Schools students in prekindergarten through grade 12 are participating on Wednesday as well.
“They’re having a big outdoor event that day which includes Hat Day for the whole district,” explained Parikakis.
Wells Academy is having one Thursday.
The “Hat Day” runs parallel to the health center’s upcoming 17th-annual fundraiser gala set for April 30 at St. Florian Event Center in Wintersville with this year’s theme being “Hats Off to OVHC — Hope, Health and Healing.” The gala has a Kentucky Derby theme and starts with the “Mint Julep” hour at 5 p.m. with prizes for the best dressed couple, the most creative hat and the best all-around hat.
The dinner begins at 6 p.m. with a program featuring special awards for Value Leader Pharmacy as the community partner, Jerry John posthumously as the medical honoree and Clint Quillen as the volunteer of the year. Tickets are $65 per person. The deadline for tickets is April 21. For information, to purchase tickets or to be sponsor, visit ovhealthcenter.org or call (740) 283-2856.
Parikakis volunteered to help the center, having been encouraged by longtime friends and gala co-chairs Dr. Tom and Suzanne Brown, who are working with gala chair Dr. Kaitlyn Pitchok.
Like Pitchok, Parikakis recently visited the health center for the first time and was impressed with the state-of-the-art facility and the services it provides for free to area residents. Its mission is to provide high-quality health care to uninsured and underinsured individuals and families in the Ohio Valley, regardless of their ability to pay.
“This place is beautiful and what they do is amazing,” Parikakis said.
“I was blown away when I came down here and got the tour and saw the volunteers that come. When people come together collectively and make a difference, and it’s a difference for all the right reasons, it’s a beautiful thing,” Parikakis said. “I’m glad I’ve been educated on what goes on here. I really didn’t know. I am glad to be a small part of something so powerful here in Jefferson County, specifically here in Steubenville.”
Parikakis explained photos taken of schools having a hat day will be part of a video presentation to be shown at the gala.
While the hat day is a fun activity, it’s a learning opportunity, too, according to Parikakis.
“By doing this we also wanted to provide education to the area schools about the health center. I went to the schools and delivered packets of information about what the center has done in the past, their mission and what they’re all about,” she said.
“I think that we know early intervention makes a difference in every kind of disease, whether it’s diabetes, hypertension or cancer, and the sooner people learn and know about the services that we provide at the Ohio Valley Health Center, the sooner they’ll get in for care,” explained Ann Quillen, the center’s executive director.
“We’re kind of sneaking in the back door by going to school-age children and getting the information to them so they can take it home to their parents,” Quillen said. “Our goal is we’re getting this information out to their parents through their children in a fun way.”
“It’s about knowing who we are and what we do and how we do it and spreading the good word,” she added of the community awareness effort.
In its history, the center has served more than 4,000 individual patients of the Ohio Valley, providing more than 23,000 medical visits all at no cost to the patient.
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