MIAMI COUNTY – When Mike Fischer of Piqua heard officials at Health Partners Free Clinic in Troy was planning a fundraiser, he wanted to help, give back, if you will, something to a place he felt has seen him through tough times. So obviously he went to the food market to help in his special way.
On Wednesday, the Seventh Annual Healing Jar Gala dinner and art auction will be held at the Piqua Country Club beginning at 5:30 p.m. Funds raised from the event will provide continued support for Miami County’s lone free medical clinic. Organizers report more items will be available in the live and silent auction than previously.
The Piqua Arts Council (PAC) has united with Health Partners in a cooperative effort to help those in medical need, according to PAC Executive Director Jordan Knepper. He states that artists he contacted believe in the mission of Health Partners to continue providing free medical care.
Fischer is providing a small sculpted totem pole piece featuring carved apples depicting unique facial expressions. Once dried, the apples are coated up to eight times of polyurethane and thoroughly dried again. Using small marbles and stone, Fischer places eyes on the apples to best depict a face.
“No two (apples) ever come out alike. I just pick up interesting looking stones, just out of the driveway, that would look nice in the apple,” said Fischer, who drives a dump truck for a living.
The 58-year-old Fischer said it was a potato shortage in the third grade that led to his unique blend of art.
“We had a class project that was like (the toy) Mr. Potato Head. We were to peel the potatoes and put faces on them. But, when they got to me they were out of potatoes. So the teacher told me to peel an apple and do mine that way. I became fascinated by it and I’m still doing it today.”
After school that day, Fischer shared his experience with his grandmother, with whom he lived at the time. She soon provided him with a sack of apples and he was on his way.
The ever-humble Fischer credits Mother Nature for a lot of his success.
“This hobby comes and goes in phases, but it may take me more than an hour to carve the number I need. I may go through 20 to 25 apples to get four or five to look right. I then hang them in the window for up to 20 days letting them dry naturally. I find the rocks (for the eyes) just lying around anywhere. They are there and I just seem to find them.”
Once he heard Health Partners was trying to raise operational funds, Fischer wanted to help out.
“I had worked all my life and raising my family. Then I found myself in a spot where I had no insurance. I just couldn’t afford it and we didn’t have anything. I went to Health Partners and they really helped us a lot.
“I have high blood pressure and take medicine. I needed to get my truck (driver’s) certification and everyone there helped me out tremendously. So I contacted them because I wanted to help any way I could,” he said.
Fischer said he has made “hundreds and hundreds” of the totem pole which have grown in popularity. He spoke of being shown photographs of curio cabinets displaying up to 15 “heads” from his apple artwork.
Several local artists and others from throughout Ohio have donated items to the clinic for the event. Information about the artists and their work can be found on the Health Partners website at HYPERLINK “http://www.healthpartnersclinic.org” www.healthpartnersclinic.org.
According to Justin Coby, Health Partners Executive Director, in 2015, the clinic treated 906 unduplicated patients, which equaled into 3,359 physician appointments. The clinic also provided 2,223 patient lab/diagnosis’, and 8,654 clinic-dispensed free prescriptions valued at more than $1 million. Overall, the clinic provided $4.32 in medical services for every $1 spent.
For additional information, contact the clinic at (937) 332-0894 x208, or by email at HYPERLINK “mailto:Justin@healthpartnersclinic.org”Justin@healthpartnersclinic.org. The clinic website is HYPERLINK “http://www.healthpartnersclinic.org”www.healthpartnersclinic.org; and can be found on Facebook at www/facebook.com/healthpartnersfreeclinic.