The Ray Elm Children and Elder’s Center was covered in red for the annual Healthy Heart luncheon this Valentine’s Day. More than 60 people filled the dining room from departments all across the Oneida Indian Nation’s Government Programs and Services to join the Elders for lunch, dessert, music and prize drawings to raise awareness of heart disease, specifically the risk posed to women.

“February is American Heart month so it’s a great time to raise awareness of women’s heart health, and it just so happened to fall on Valentine’s Day this year,” said Pat Catalano, events coordinator for the Nation’s Government Programs and Services. The center was decorated with red hearts, table cloths and ribbons, and the Elders came dressed in their best red shirts and sweaters to show support for women with heart disease.

Fact-sheets about heart disease and prevention were given out and Health Services nurses were on-hand for blood pressure checks and screenings. “It’s nice to have people from all different departments come here,” Program Coordinator Kathy Willard said. “Promoting healthy living and a healthy lifestyle is important for all of us.”

“The food was delicious and the dessert was the cherry on top,” said Anita Williams (Turtle Clan) while complimenting the Turning Stone chefs who catered the special event this year. The menu included stuffed turkey breast, butternut squash, julienne green bean and corn salad, and whole wheat rolls. The Elders packed the place and were appreciative of the staff’s willingness to put together these fun activities. Elders program participant Sandy LaClair summed it up best: “They take great care of us with events like this.”