Raina Frias and her two boys make their way through the halls of Isaac Middle School, looking for the line for free haircuts. Eight-year-old Lorenzo and 6-year-old Aldo carry their brand-new backpacks, filled with colored pencils, crayons and other supplies to start off their school year — all provided through donations.
“Between rent, utilities and groceries, there’s never enough money to get the boys ready for school,” said Raina, a lifelong Phoenician, who struggles to cover the bare necessities for her family and admits health insurance is not on that list.
This is the third year she and her family have attended UnitedHealthcare’s Back-to-School event at Isaac Middle School.
“Coming here to get the boys’ vision and hearing checked, not to mention sports physicals and immunizations, is a huge help for our family,” she said. “It’s all available at one time, in one place, with everything else they need to start school.”
UnitedHealthcare has partnered with Isaac School District for 16 years to offer a back-to-school event that provides families with no-cost health screenings, immunizations, vision, hearing and dental check-ups, haircuts, physicals and wellness checks, plus free backpacks, school supplies, bike helmets and car seats.
“We recognize the challenges these families face with transportation, budgeting and lack of health insurance, and we want to provide a creative solution to meet these children’s needs,” said Joe Gaudio, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community & State of Arizona. “Isaac School District has been a wonderful partner, and together we can hold a comprehensive event where everything is available at one location on one day.”
More than 1,500 people pass through the middle school annually for this event, receiving health and social services from dozens of community organizations and nearly 100 volunteers.
The Phoenix Fire Department is also onsite to offer immunizations for both adults and children.
“There is no other location in the city where large numbers of people can come on a weekend to get the immunizations they need,” said Roy Rogers, of the Phoenix Fire Department. “We participate every year, knowing we are contributing solutions to the needs of so many families.”
Aldo and Lorenzo didn’t need immunizations this year; but Raina did, so the boys held their mom’s hand while she got her shot. They eventually found the line for their much-anticipated haircuts but, for Aldo, the real prize was his backpack full of school supplies.
“I didn’t have any crayons and now I do,” he said.