Staff and supporters of the Free Clinic of Powhatan celebrated Christmas a little early this year with the promise of a huge bump in its capital campaign.

The nonprofit announced in December that it had been awarded matching grants from the Cabell Foundation and The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation totaling $350,000.

The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation awarded the clinic a grant of $200,000 for the renovation of its newly acquired space in the vacated Powhatan school board building. The Cabell Foundation also awarded the clinic a grant of $150,000 for this renovation project.

These fabulous grants are a wonderful gift to the Powhatan community to help build a clinic for its many patients. But the grants are matching grants, meaning the clinic has to match the dollar amount for each grant in order to receive the funding.

The foundations, (very fairly) want the grantors (Free Clinic) to go out to their community and raise the funds, showing them the community is supportive of the project. For 12 years, the clinic has received undeniable support and funding from Powhatan and neighboring communities.

The clinic has established the Campaign for Health and Hope to serve more people efficiently, effectively, and compassionately. The county is offering the clinic 3,300 square feet in the vacated school board building. The county will not charge the clinic rent nor fees for public utilities and will maintain the exterior of the building. The other part of the building will be occupied by the county’s public works and IT departments.

This new space will give the clinic a much larger facility, allowing for the addition of patient hours, patient services, dental services on-site, the ability to increase mental health counseling, and more. The clinic is now offering mental health services at Powhatan High School and will begin a pilot mental health program at Powhatan Middle School in February.

Moving into a larger space comes at a cost that must be met with contributions from people who share the willingness to invest in Powhatan’s people and community. While the nonprofit was not forced to purchase a building, it must raise the funds to renovate the facility, equip the new space, add to present staff and fund much-needed programs. The clinic has a proven record of operating at top efficiency. Financial contributions support the clinic’s core mission. More than 80 percent of the total revenue supports services and programs, thanks to devoted volunteers and community partners.

The Free Clinic needs to raise $2 million in its Health and Hope Campaign. Included in that amount are the necessary funds for renovating the building into proper clinical space for medical and dental services. The nonprofit must equip and furnish its new space. Organizers need funds to cover the anticipated increased operating costs for three years until the annual fund grows to cover the additional operating costs. The Free Clinic’s mission, to build a healthier community one person at a time, has been achieved and will be continued. The summary of objectives for the Campaign for Health and Hope includes:

* Capital goal: building renovations, $500,000; dental equipment, $300,000; medical equipment, $100,000; computer/office equipment, $100,000; and electronic health records system, $100,000.

* Total program and outreach goal: expanded staff for mental health services, $80,000; expanded dental staff, $100,000; expanded support staff, $350,000; and support for existing services, $70,000.

* Total endowment goal, $300,000.

Contributions can be pledged over a three-year period.

Many of the Free Clinic’s patients are employed or retired. They are the working poor, the elderly living on fixed Social Security payments in an environment of rising living and health care costs. They are your neighbors. The average patient is a single woman between 45 and 64 years living below the federal poverty level (FPL). For a family of one, this means earning no more than $12,490 annually. The most frequent diagnoses are chronic illnesses (diabetes, COPD, etc,), depression, and dental issues (pain and lack of teeth). The clinic treats and connects patients to proper specialists and prescribes them the life-saving and life-changing medications they need.

The Free Clinic is the only safety net provider for the uninsured, underinsured and low-income residents in the community. Patients see the clinic as their medical home. They are encouraged to visit for annual check-ups, medication monitoring, and lab testing. That allows patients to return to work or work more hours. They are able to buy groceries again, pay their taxes, and contribute to the economy. Without regular healthcare, patients become sicker and care becomes more costly. What might have been an early visit to the Free Clinic now possibly becomes a visit to an emergency room. Lack of healthcare becomes a community health risk.

When we help our neighbors, we invest in our community. The clinic has made a difference in so many people’s lives, and that would not be possible without the community’s support for the last 12 years.

For any questions or to donate, call Connie Moslow at 804-874-2213.

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