08CAREThe CARE Clinic, established in 1993, provides free basic medical care, dental extractions, chiropractic care, lab testing, diagnostic testing, pharmacy service, health education, community resource information, social services and referrals to specialists to uninsured, low-income residents of Cumberland County. The clinic would not be able to provide any of these services without its volunteers. All of The CARE Clinic’s physicians, nurses, dentists, dental assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and receptionists are volunteers. Volunteers also serve on numerous committees, prepare dinner for their fellow volunteers on clinic evenings, assist with fundraising events and much more. Without volunteers, The CARE Clinic could not function. Here are just a few of those volunteers.

Glenn Thorp is a pharmacist with Cape Fear Valley Health System. He has been volunteering for six months.

“I wanted to give back to the community that I live in,” he said. “The pharmacy residency introduced me to this opportunity. A woman recently lost her job and prescription insurance/medical insurance. She came to The CARE Clinic and was extremely grateful for the services we were able to provide. We were able to prevent her from missing refills with her blood pressure, thyroid and asthma medications.

Sgt. Arjay Mendoza is a pharmacy technician in the U.S. Army. He has been volunteering for almost a year. “I choose to volunteer at The CARE Clinic because I want to give back to the community by helping the underserved population,” he said. “Since I’m (in the) military, one patient thanked me for my service. I replied, ‘Thank you. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to help those people in need.’”

Yung Lee is a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. He has been volunteering since January 2017. “I chose to volunteer at The CARE Clinic to give back to my community and to gain experience in the field of dentistry,” he said. “It is rewarding to be able to help others while at the same time working alongside compassionate dentists. The people at the clinic truly care about the patients and their wellbeing. Being in such a positive environment makes volunteering that much more fun and exciting.

“One of the patients was terrified of needles and anesthetics. The patient asked me to hold their hand during the anesthesia and throughout the treatment. The patient was very thankful (to me for) comforting them throughout the procedure. Moments like these remind me why I want to pursue this profession. It further solidified my commitment to pursue dentistry.

Ginna Pugh is a retired educator with Cumberland County Schools. She has been volunteering for more than a year. “I had always been interested in The CARE Clinic and what they do for their patients,” she said. “Patients are so appreciative. One patient came in and wanted to make a donation. She did not have an appointment that evening, but her son had sent her money for her birthday and she wanted to give part of it to The CARE Clinic because they had done so much for her.”

Kerstin Hudgins is a registered nurse at Cape Fear Valley Health System. She has been volunteering for four years. “It is a nice way to give back to the community and to practice nursing with a more personal touch,” she said. “(Once), we were seeing our last patient and getting ready to close when I observed the patient’s mother having a severe cough. She was also a patient but had no appointment that evening. I advocated for her to be seen. We saved her from a potential Emergency Department visit and worsening of her symptoms.”

Cheryl P. Colvin is a physician in the Emergency Department at Cape Fear Valley Health System. She has been volunteering for five years. “I completely understand the needs of the community, and the patients at The CARE Clinic appreciate the services provided,” she said. “The heartfelt appreciation from every patient makes it memorable.”

Erin Stevens is a nurse at Cape Fear Valley Health System. She has been volunteering for two years.

“It is a great cause,” she said. “It is rewarding to see how appreciative the patients are.”

Jacqueline Merritt-Evans is a territory manager with Premier Concepts, LLC. She has been volunteering for two years. “I wanted to keep up my skills as a medical assistant and in the field of phlebotomy,” she said. “I enjoy the people and atmosphere. I enjoy giving back and helping out where I can. I had a patient who was very nervous about getting her blood drawn. I gave her a squeeze ball that is shaped like a brain, and I said to her, ‘Please hold my brain.’ She gave me a funny look as I put the ball (brain) in her hand, and we both laughed so hard. She was OK after that, and I was able to draw her blood. She laughed away her nervousness.”

Ana Mercurio is a dental assistant at Dr. Walter Scott DDS & Associates. She has been volunteering for seven years. She said she volunteers “to give back, to help others. The gratitude of the patients is (from) genuine, hard-working people who truly appreciate us.

The CARE Clinic is located at 239 Robeson St. Contact Julie Dixon or Cathy Riddle at 910-485-0555 if you are interested in volunteering. Visit thecareclinic.org to learn more about the clinic.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for The CARE Clinic’s services, you must:

• Be an adult resident of Cumberland County or the surrounding area • Have no insurance – including Medicaid

• Meet an income requirement

• Display proof of household income and a valid, North Carolina DMV-issued picture ID card or driver’s license showing your current address

Appointments:

• No walk-ins.

• Appointments are made only by phone; for more information on making an appointment, call 910-485-0555.

• Medical appointments may be made Monday- Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Dental appointments may be made Friday from 9 a.m. to noon for the following week.

• The clinic serves patients each Tuesday and Thursday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

• Dental clinics are every Tuesday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Appointments are made on a space available basis.

• To cancel an appointment, you must call by 8 a.m. the day of the appointment and leave a message on the answering machine in order not to be penalized.

Patients are given the opportunity to make a donation at the time of their visit.

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