uac031710001new.gif Benefits Agency With Big Dreams

On Saturday, March 27, Fayetteville residents will Dream Big! at the 13th Annual Evening at the Theater. The signature fundraising event benefits Better Health, the first independent non-profit organization in Cumberland County, and will be held at Highland Country Club.

Dream Big! is produced and directed by Cassandra Vallery and features local theater performers Ken Griggs, Greg King, Jenny Beaver and Libby Seymour. Most of the performers have volunteered for the event for several years and are regulars on stage at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

“I think it’s really remarkable that we are able to put together this caliber of show and they all volunteer their time. Needless to say we couldn’t do it without them,” said Judy Klinck, executive director of Better Health. “They put all of this work into a show that will only be seen one time. But that’s also an incentive for people to come out and see the show.”

The show, Dream Big!, has been created exclusively for this event and is a lively production of song and dance, both dramatic and comedic.

It features favorite Broadway hits such as “Dream the Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha, and other recognizable standards like “Dream” by Johnny Mercer.

“We try to choose stuff that we’ve always wanted to do,” said Vallery, who has produced and directed the show for four years.

Dream Big! is a cabaret-style show. What that means is it’s an intimate show. It’s not big on props or sound effects, but strictly about the audience and the performers. It’s a special relationship. In a cabaret the material is unique. Each song stands alone. Each is separate and has a different message or story,” she explained.

“I hate to be called the director of the show. A director’s job is 90 percent done in casting. Ninety-fi ve percent of mine is done in asking the right people,” said Vallery. “Libby Seymour (joining the show for the fi rst time) is an actress of the highest level. Jenny is adorable and funny and everyone loves her. The two guys — Ken and Greg — are amazing voices and great people.”

This year the individual acts of the show are pulled together with a common theme, explained Vallery.

“The theme is dream big — I was trying to tie in with what they do so beautifully at Better Health. For an agency like that to succeed you have to see the potential of your community and its people, and really dream big. Having a dream — having a goal — is so important in order to have 52 years of service. Its something I also learned through working at the theatre [CFRT] — it doesn’t come from thinking small — you’ve got to have an idea of something big to reach it.”

Better Health has certainly seen the realization of big dreams. The organization has been serving Cumberland County since 1958 by bridging the gaps in healthcare for under-served, low-income residents. The organization has grown from the initial vision of Ruth Peters, the organization’s founder and fi rst executive director, who housed the organization in her apartment for 25 years.

“Better Health was founded in 1958 on the need for prescription assistance. Even though healthcare has changed a great bit in 52 years, that need is still here. That’s part of our direct aid — the most funding is spent on prescription aid. We also do a lot of help with medical supplies,” explained Klinck.

Better Health has certainly seen the realization of big dreams. The organization has been serving Cumberland County since 1958 by bridging the gaps in healthcare for under-served, low-income residents. In those 52 years, the organization has grown from the initial vision of Ruth Peters, the organization’s founder and fi rst executive director, who housed the organization in her apartment for 25 years, to its move to its own facility on Bragg Boulevard.

“Better Health was founded in 1958 on the need for prescription assistance. Even though healthcare has changed a great bit in 52 years, that need is still here. That’s part of our direct aid — the most funding is spent on prescription aid. We also do a lot of help with medical supplies,” explained Klinck.

In 2009, Better Health provided diabetes education and management to 338 people, fi nancial assistant for medical necessities for 1070 individuals, medical equipment loans to 190 families, and information and referral series to 1,587 residents of Cumberland County.

“We’re best known for our diabetes education programs. We have a seven-week management course — and it’s A to Z. It’s a free class and we have clinics that meet every week where anyone could walk in and be checked and seen by a nurse to check weight, blood pressure, blood glucose. And we screen at those clinics for hypertension and diabetes.”

There is no income qualifi cation for those services. Better Health also has a unique medical equipment loan program. They have commonly used medical equipment that is donated to the organization and then loaned out to people in need.

“We have an exercise class for people with diabetes that is fl ourishing. They have a great time. Exercise is like insulin for people that have diabetes,” continued Klinck. “A few years ago we decided to get into prevention. We use a state program “Eat Smart, Move More.” It’s very informative and entertaining. We’ll present it anyplace there is a group gathered that wants to learn about a healthier lifestyle, such as churches or civic groups.”

Better Health is a United Way partner agency, and also receives funding from individuals and corporate donations. According to Klinck, the organization is almost entirely funded by funds from within Cumberland County. Funds from the Evening at the Theater event go into the general operating fund and are used for all of the organization’s programs.

“We usually raise about $30,000 with this fundraiser. That’s our goal this year, after expenses. At least 200 people will attend the event,” said Klinck.

Reservations for Evening at the Theater are $175 per couple or $100 single. The evening includes beverages and hors d’oeuvres before the show and coffee and dessert following. For reservations or more information, please call Better Health at 483-7534 or go to www.BetterHealthCC.org.

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