by Willmarine B. Hurst
Cash Money CEOs, Ronald “Slim” Williams and his brother Bryan “Birdman” Williams aka “Baby” kicked their annual Thanksgiving turkey give-a-way up a notch this year by incorporating a health fair. For many, this health fair was a welcomed addition in a post-Katrina New Orleans, where the disenfranchised still suffer from a lack of access to services.
In addition to health screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, glucose, along with eye exams, dental and podiatric services, there was also a trailer where kids of all ages enjoyed the latest video games. There was face painting, space walks and a live broadcast from Q93 radio station—which kept the park jumping with the sounds of Lil’ Wayne and other Cash Money/Young Money artists.
Tables were set up along the Freret Street side of A.L. Davis Park for healthcare volunteers. Daughters of Charity had a health care unit on site thanks to Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, president of the New Orleans Medical Association. Also on hand were the nursing students from Dillard University, as well as, Genell Hulbert, a Dillard graduate and intern with the American Diabetes Association of Louisiana. Hulbert says that her organization gave out information to more than 60 people.
“I was given the opportunity to set up a table to promote our diabetes awareness and prevention materials,” she says. “I love going out into the community to spread beneficial information that’s going to help the people of New Orleans. The Cash Money Turkey Giveaway/Fair was one of those events that I could not turn down.”
The health fair was the brainchild of Slim, the older of the Williams brothers.
“We really appreciated everybody who came out and participated—all the volunteers. It’s a great thing,” says Williams.
Williams, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Marfan syndrome, is keenly aware of the medical needs of the community.
“I wanted to get someone who knew about the disease; but not many people have heard about Marfan syndrome,” he says.
People with Marfan tend to be unusually tall with long limbs and long fingers. He talked about his condition last year when he came to the city. At that time, he was still recouping from major surgery.
When asked about his health recently, however, Williams replied “I’m 100 percent. This is the first time since I had the surgery that I can say that I’m 100 percent.”
HELP FROM THE BIG APPLE TO THE BIG EASY
Though the health fair was Slim’s idea, putting it together was the collaborative venture of representatives from Universal Motown, the CM label’s distributor ,and Creative Jenius Agency of New York.
Owner of Creative Jenius, C.J. South, says he began working on the project four months ago.
After making a few calls, he met with a young lady named Chana Doreaux, who lives in New Orleans and is the director of community relations for the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies. She also owns her own PR firm, The Doreaux Agency and previously practiced law in New Orleans. As a community activist, she has worked with various schools around the city helping young people.
“Chana and her company were key in helping to reach out and solidify many of the supporting organizations,” South says. “I also had a significant amount of help from Dr. Joia Crear-Perry, who was able to secure the mobile unit and assistance from several other organizations. If it had not been for these two ladies, it would have been significantly more difficult.”
In all, there were about 19 different organizations on board, from Dillard and Southern University at New Orleans, LSU, Our Lady of the Lake, Daughters of Charity, People’s Health, to the Department of Health and Hospitals.
A THANKSGIVING BASKET FILLED WITH LOVE
There was a line from one side of A. L. Davis Park to the other, as people waited for one of the coveted Thanksgiving baskets. Both of the Williams brothers assisted with passing out the turkeys and other items. There were also a number of volunteers who helped with this process. Slim and Baby’s sister Kim Williams helped to secure volunteers for this part of the event. One of the groups that helped with the distribution was from the United Motorcycle Community of Louisiana, an organization of about nine motorcycle clubs.
Carl, “Big C” Jordan, president of My Brother’s Keeper and chairperson of UMC of LA, says he was contacted by Kim Williams and gladly accepted the invitation to assist with this project.
“They know what we do and what we’re all about,” says Jordan. “We work out in the community. We also help the elderly and kids in the community with school supplies, uniforms and recreational park equipment.”
Vickie Charles, public relations manager for Cash Money/Young Money says Winn-Dixie was very helpful this year, as in the past. They allowed her access to their warehouse in Harahan, where she was able to pick out all of the items for the baskets.
“I went in and picked out the foods—there are about 2,000 turkeys—and they delivered the items to the site.”
The event went on for most of the day, with music blasting and children playing. The Williams brothers host this event every year to give back to the community that gave them their foundation and to honor their late parents Johnny and Gladys Williams—in whose names they have also set up a foundation that helps local community children.
Reflecting on the event, Slim says, “God works through people. This is bigger than me; bigger than my brother; bigger than all of us—that’s God’s work.”