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Oct. 5 Blood Drive and Health Fair Honors Man's Dream

One of Matthew Barber’s last wishes was for others to live well and healthy lives. On October 5th, the public is invited to share his legacy and give the gift of life in his memory at Hope Church in Bound Brook.

As he “quietly fought” cancer, Barber worked as assistant director of environmental services at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick before his passing last April. According to hospital chaplain and Hope Church associate minister Rev. Jerrold Smith, Jr., Barber was passionate about making sure minorities are equipped with tools to make healthy lifestyle choices and access to healthcare professionals.

“He approached the hospital’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and RWJ’s Black Professionals Network and made his wishes known,” said Rev. Smith. As a result, the groups are sponsoring a health fair and blood drive at Hope Church on October 5th from 9:30 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. rain or shine. There will be a flu shot clinic; blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol screenings; cancer, diabetes and nutrition education; food and children’s activities. There is no cost to attend.

In accordance with Barber’s wishes, the health fair will provide strategies and resources to the underserved, and because the event is held in his honor, RWJ Blood Services will be conducting a memorial blood drive.

“What better way to honor the life of a man who wanted others to thrive,” said Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset’s blood services supervisor Christia Keyte, “Each unit of blood has the potential to save two lives and each unit we collect helps local patients. ”

New and returning blood donors are invited and all types are needed. Donors must feel well and healthy at the time of donation, eat and drink well before arriving and bring photo ID. Appointments are strongly encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. Online registration is available at www.RWJUHDonorClub.org.

“Donors who have questions about travel or medical eligibility can ask us on-site or call ahead and speak with a blood services representative at 908-685-2926,” said Keyte.

Hope Church is located at 519 E. Main Street in Bound Brook. For Rev. Smith, the health fair is an exciting ministry opportunity for his church. “It’s a way for us to address the physical needs of the community in addition to addressing the spiritual needs,” he said, “It’s my hope that [Barber’s] family will be there to see his idea and dreams in action.”