When Southern New England Conference (SNEC) Health Ministry director Tom Dombrowski spoke at the Multicultural Women’s Summit in Worcester, MA, the city for SNEC’s evangelism focus in 2023, he closed by saying, “If there’s anything we can help you with, please contact me.” Then he passed out his business cards.
Within a week he received a request from a former Adventist, Winnie Octave, a neighborhood organizer in Worcester who has been working tirelessly for the last ten years to reduce crime in her neighborhood. Octave invited Dombrowski to bring a health ministry team to a block party celebrating the restoration and upgrade of Grant Square Park, a neighborhood gathering place.
Adventists are known for organizing educational health fairs with a variety of free health screenings, but this time Dombrowski brought a team of nine health ministry volunteers who provided hand and chair massage only, the most popular station in full-scale health fair. These volunteers came from five Adventist churches in Connecticut, led by Beverly Williams, a licensed massage therapist and community health advocate trainer.
Before the block party opened and the SNEC health team could finish setting up, people started to sign up. In four hours, the team served over 40 individuals from young people to the elderly, from tired moms to homeless men and women. Jeanne Elliott, a volunteer from the Norwich SDA church, created a bubble making station to keep the children occupied while their parents received a hand or chair massage. Health team members are trained to be sensitive to a potential spiritual interest and offered to pray for or “bless” everyone they served.
Dombrowski’s vision is to organize and train more health ministry teams across the conference (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) so every church will be a center of hope and healing.