By Melody Vallieu
TROY — Health Partners Free Clinic this year is celebrating its 15th anniversary of serving uninsured and under-insured residents of Miami County with free health care services.
In honor of the milestone, they also have decided to step it up their annual premier fundraiser a notch — and a meal.
Instead of the breakfast usually held, a dinner event — a Healing Jar Gala — is scheduled for May 7 at Fort Piqua Plaza.
“We want to really go all out for our 15th anniversary and the Healing Jar event seemed to be the best forum for this celebration,” said Justin Coby, executive director of Health Partners Free Clinic. “We also aspire to increase the amount of self-sustaining revenue that we can acquire since the recent expansion of hours here at the clinic.”
Deborah Miller, RN, former Health Partners executive director, and present executive director of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, will be the keynote speaker.
Coby said choosing Miller as the guest speaker was appropriate for serveral reasons.
“Not only did she play a major role in the implementation and evolution of the clinic, but she now plays a major role in the evolution of all Ohio free clinics as the president of the Ohio Association of Free Clinics,” Coby said. “She will use her time at the Healing Jar Gala to speak about the role free clinics will continue to play during this transitional shift into an ACA-driven health care system. I’m sure she will also share some stories about Health Partners Free Clinic history.”
In years past, this particular fundraiser has brought in 5-10 percent of the center’s annual revenue, Coby said. He said the free clinic also is lucky to have many foundations, grantors, corporations and individual donors that make up the rest of the budget and keep the doors open year round.
“Our intention is, of course, to raise more funding for the clinic, but also to spread awareness about our mission. We are still surprised to hear of so many that are not aware of our existence,” he said.
For the past five years, Coby said staff has partnered with Sally Watson from Hotel Gallery located in Tipp City to create the pottery for the event.
“She always creates the most beautiful pieces for our auction,” he said.
Again different from years past, this year’s event will feature a silent auction of five vases during the dinner and presentation, followed by a live auction of two vases to close out the evening.
Coby assured that those who choose to attend the Healing Jar Gala will be supporting health care services for residents right here in Miami County.
“As Miami County’s sole free clinic, Health Partners serves those who are not able to afford quality health care due to lack of or insufficient insurance, and we do that at no cost,” he said. “The clinic not only provides primary care visits, but also medication, lab work and social services as resources allow. We serve as a safety-net to those residents that may otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’ without it.”
For those unable to attend the gala, but would still like to help, Coby said the free clinic can always use volunteers, especially those recently retired that wish to serve. He said the clinic also is in need of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, clerical staff and anyone “with a heart for others.”
“Everyone should reap the benefits of volunteerism, whether at Health Partners or any other not-for-profit organization here in Miami County,” Coby said.
He said financial donations also are always welcome.
“We celebrate those in the community who have supported us for so many years now. Miami County is blessed with many generous individuals and corporations. Truly, these people are heroes to us.”
Coby said while there is always some hesitancy for an organization like Health Partners Free Clinic to step out of its comfort zone with an event like this, they believe the community, as always, will come out in full force to support the event.
“The staff and board are hopeful for a celebration that will bring loyal supporters together with folks in the community that may be hearing about us for the very first time.”
Tickets for the Healing Jar Gala are $75 each or $700 for a table.
The evening will begin with a social hour, including a cash bar, at 5:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and presentation at 6:30 p.m. and pottery auction at 7:30 p.m. The dress will be business formal.
To purchase tickets, contact Justin Coby at (937) 332-0894, Ext. 208, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The registration deadline is April 23.