health fairs

Bill Dow in Smithville ,Tenn., 1970

Bill Dow

Bill Dow co-founded the Student Health Coalition while in medical school at Vanderbilt University, in 1969. His larger-than-life role in the SHC origin story and beyond warrants special telling, which we attempt in the essay that follows. Contributed by Margaret Ecker, compiled in collaboration with friends  Bill Dow energized a generation of student activists and …

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Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provided support to the Student Health Coalition early on, beginning in 1970.  A TVA van traveled to the Coalition health fairs and included x-ray, lab facilities, and staff to run it.  Retired TVA vans eventually served as early clinic buildings in the communities where the Coalition worked. TVA is a …

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Odes and Shelby McKamey

Odes and Shelby McKamey were among the most cherished local hosts for members of the SHC when the health fair arrived in their remote mountain community of Stoney Fork, Tenn. Later, after the Stoney Fork Clinic was established, the McKameys also housed and hosted visiting doctors who came to the clinic, including Tom John. Odes …

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Charles Schiff

While an engineering student at Vanderbilt University, Charles spent the summers of 1970 and 1971 with the Student Health Coalition. He was 18 years old when he joined the SHC, one of the Coalition’s youngest members. He served as a community worker in Clairfield, Tenn. where, in addition to providing support for the health fairs, …

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Eula Hall

A self-described “Hillbilly Activist”, Eula Hall (Pike County, Ky., 29 October 1927 –  Craynor, Ky., 8 May 2021) was a former Appalachian Volunteer and the leader of the “Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization” which invited the Student Health Coalition to bring a health fair to Mud Creek, Ky. in the summer of 1971. This was …

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Martha Stucker

Martha was a Catholic nun and a registered nurse working in East Tennessee at the Clairfield clinic in 1969 when Bill Dow first encountered her and engaged her help in designing student-run health fairs. She had been conducting primary care for pregnant women and their children, including dispensing birth control, since before Nurse Practitioner was …

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Ann Baile Hamric

Ann participated in the Coalition in 1970, the first summer that the Coalition conducted multiple health fairs in middle and eastern Tennessee.  She had just graduated from Vanderbilt School of Nursing. Ann was instrumental in the establishment of structured followup care for clinical issues discovered at the Health Fairs. She helped devise systematic home visits …

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Dana Ellis

Dana worked West Tennessee health fairs in the summers of 1973 and 1974 while a student in the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt. She served as co-director of the Student Health Coalition alongside George Smith who was in medical school at Meharry Medical College, a historically Black medical school. Together they provided clinical leadership for …

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Jack Beckford Letter, Southern Historical Collection, UNC Chapel Hill

Jack Beckford participated in the Health Fair in Eastern Kentucky in the summer of 1971. A letter home shares updates about the Health Fair, its sponsors, the Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization and the Appalachian Regional Commission, and social and business activities. Jack Beckford Letter, 26 July 1971, in the Student Health Coalition Project Collection #5649, …

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Diane Lauver

Contributed by Diane Lauver, February 2018 Growing up, I was close to my paternal grandparents; they lived in a pastoral valley looking at Appalachian hills in a northern state. With their 8th grade educations and practical wisdom, they taught me how to garden and “put up” its produce. My maternal grandparents worked for a travel …

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