In an age of rising health care costs and complex insurance issues, an accident or serious illness can bring physical and financial ruin. Resources for the uninsured are limited, and first-class treatment is expensive. Since 1993, The CARE Clinic has provided 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.
Staffed primarily by volunteers, the clinic receives no government assistance. “We rely on grants, donations and fundraisers,” said Cynthia M. Spears, CARE Clinic development and marketing director. “It costs us approximately $45,000 a month to keep our doors open. Our biggest expense is pharmaceuticals. We have a pharmacy at the clinic. When we see a patient, if they need medication, they get it free before they leave. Last year, we dispensed 11,142 prescription medications with an estimated wholesale price of $780,531.
Funding an operation this big and this generous is a challenge. Donations are always welcome, but that is not always enough as the need for quality medical care is great. “Each year, we have three major fundraisers: Evening of CARE, which is in February, Toast of the Town wine and beer tasting in April and our Golf Charity tournament in September,” Spears said.
Evening of CARE
The clinic’s biggest fundraiser, Evening of CARE, takes place Feb. 3. One thing that makes this fundraiser unique is that it is not held at one venue. It takes place throughout the community. Couples sign up to open their homes and host a meal, which is usually catered. Often, the hosts will provide a list of guests to The CARE Clinic. However, Williams noted that there are always homes that have space for community members. This year, 34 host homes are participating.
“If you want to attend, contact us,” Williams said. The cost is $75 per person. The food is from Dorothy’s Catering 2.”
If the hosts choose to have the meal catered, there are two dishes on the menu. One is chicken, two vegetables, a salad and dessert. The other is lasagna, salad, garlic bread and dessert. Williams noted that some hosts provide the meals for their guests. “Gates Four turns this into a neighborhood meal and caters it on-site, which is very generous because they absorb the cost of preparing the meal,” Williams said.
Each host is encouraged to include only as many people as their home comfortably allows, so some homes host 15-20 and others up to 50, giving each attendee a unique experience.
Evening of CARE raises between $55,000 and $60,000 most years. While the funds are not earmarked, Williams said one of the biggest operating expenses for the clinic is keeping its pharmacy stocked. “A lot of the medications are very expensive, and that can add up quickly.”
Toast of the Town: wine and beer tasting
April 26, The CARE Clinic will host a wine and beer tasting at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “We have outgrown every other place we’ve been to,” Williams said. “We started at the Prince Charles Hotel downtown and then moved to St. Patrick Catholic Church and to the Metropolitan Room after that.”
With an attendance of 350 guests last year, this event offers a fun and elegant evening for attendees. “We have a wine tasting sponsored by Mutual Distributing,” Williams said. “They arrange to bring in vendors and wines from all over the world. They set up tables, and people go around and get to taste different beverages.”
Last year, the event expanded to include beer, opening opportunities for local breweries like the Mash House, Huske Hardware House and Dirtbag Ales to support the cause.
Williams added that the event is catered and that there will be a photo booth and a Step and Repeat, too. Five Star Entertainment will provide the DJ. “It is a nice evening,” Williams said. “We are hoping for nice weather so we can be outside and not just in the Orangery. Anyone is welcome to come.”
In addition to the beverages and entertainment, guests can bid in the silent auction. In the past, auction items have included a trip to Africa for seven days, wine-themed baskets, “hit the town” baskets with gift cards from various local vendors, petthemed baskets, jewelry, furniture, art and more.
“It is a good night to get to go out and have fun,” Williams said.
Start time is 6 p.m. Tickets cost $50 in advance and $55 at the door.
Each fall, The CARE Clinic hosts a golf tournament. It’s been at Gates Four for the last eight years. Like most tournaments, this one includes teams and sponsorship opportunities. “We get Gates Four bucks and offer them to the golfers to spend at the Gates Four pro shop,” Williams said.
This event costs $300 per person to play and has an outreach component as well. “You can sponsor as soldier,” Williams said. “We coordinate with Fort Bragg to help select soldiers to participate. Last year, we had 12 soldiers sponsored. It is a good way to give back to them and thank them for their service. They seem to enjoy meeting people in the community, and the local golfers like to mingle.”
Tournament day includes golf, lunch and prizes.
While fundraisers are vital to keeping The CARE Clinic doors open, Williams added that sponsors and donations play a big part in that, too, as do volunteers. “We have more than 500 volunteers who do everything from serving on committees to serving in the clinic to doing administrative work,” Williams said. There never seem to be enough money or volunteers to meet the demand, though.
Visit www.thecareclinic.org or call (910) 485- 0555 to learn more about The CARE Clinic and how you can help.
Make a CARE Clinic appointment
To be eligible, 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
• 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 Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon for the following week.
• The clinic serves patients each Tuesday and Thursday and the second and fourth Wednesdays 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.