Monday, April 5, 2021
Marlene Quaroni - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | Alejandro, a client at Camillus House, worked on strengthening his arm muscles on the Pendulum, ABS and Dip Station fitness device recently installed at Camillus House’s main campus.
“It’s really great to have outdoor exercise equipment,” he said. “I love using it and I see a lot of other people use it, too. Especially as we try to be outside more, having the equipment gives us something good to do outdoors.”
The Pendulum, ABS and Dip Station that Alejandro was using is one of three state-of-the-art exercise devices that AV Med, one of Florida’s oldest and largest not-for-profit health plans, donated to Camillus House.
“Health and wellness are an integral part of AvMed’s culture of community service,” said Ashley Allen, senior vice president and chief strategic growth and marketing officer at AvMed. “We are pleased to make this donation to help their clients achieve peace of mind and a healthier future.”
The new fitness zone at Camillus House, dubbed The Fitness Trail, features three pieces of easy-to-use, low-impact gym equipment designed for cardio and strength training. Included is a four-person lower body combo, two-person back and arms combo and a three-person static combo, great for dips, stretching and sit-ups. The equipment is part of an ongoing renovation of the main campus’s courtyard.
“The Fitness Trail is the culmination of three years of work to create an appealing space for Camillus House clients,” said Hilda Fernandez, CEO of Camillus House, during a “Fit ‘n Trim” ribbon-cutting celebration held March 24, 2021. “We appreciate all of our partners who made our multipurpose outdoor garden possible, including The Dow Chemical Company, Hands On Miami (part of the Points of Light Hands On Network) Home Depot, volunteers and staff.”
Besides the exercise equipment, the courtyard now features multicolored Adirondack chairs, a tile-paved patio, a variety of palm trees, rock and pebble landscaping, a colorful mural on the south wall of the courtyard and red mulch around the exercise equipment.
During the event, volunteer barbers and hair stylists gave clients free haircuts; fitness professional Shebah Carfagno led clients in several exercises and DJ Lu played dance music. A representative of Miami Mayor Daniella Levine Cava presented a proclamation to Camillus House administrators celebrating the Fitness Trail ribbon-cutting.
Christine Perez, Camillus House vice president of Development, thanked AvMed for their donation. “We are so grateful to AvMed for bringing the gift of physical fitness, health and wellness to our clients,” she said.
In addition, newly graduated Camillus House culinary students prepared and served fruits and vegetables in plastic containers. John Hugo and his son, Randy Hugo, were among the graduates. John said that Camillus House turned his life around.
“I lost my job in Texas, so my son and I heard there was work in Jackson, Mississippi,” he said, wearing his Miami Dade College International Hospitality Institute jacket as he handed out containers. “That didn’t work out, so we took a Greyhound bus to South Florida where we were told there was work. We wound up sleeping in the street near the Magic City Casino.”
He said it was a horrible experience and his birth certificate was stolen on the streets, so he didn’t have identification. But their luck was about to change.
“One day, a van pulled up and a man named Bob, who was a kitchen director for Camillus House, said he would like to help us,” John said. “We spent two years in a special housing program. We owe everything to Camillus House.”
The main campus of Camillus House is one of 11 Camillus housing facilities for the homeless in Miami-Dade County. There’s even a dog kennel for clients who want to keep their dogs and a dog park area where clients can walk their dogs.