Community caretaker gives away $100,000

July 07, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

It costs money to nurture the uninsured, help teenagers avoid health risks, aid ill minds and study the undefined, which is what prompted one large community caretaker to help its less-fortunate caregiving counterparts.

The Washington County Health System Inc. awarded $100,000 in grants to the Community Free Clinic, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, Turning Point of Washington County and the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Association, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Washington County.

Washington County Health System Inc., the parent company of Washington County Hospital, established the Community Benefits Fund to promote the health and well-being of the residents of the community.


The Community Health Council, a subcommittee of the Washington County Hospital Board, selects the recipient or recipients of the Community Benefits Fund each year. Grants are awarded to organizations that work to prevent problems and promote improved health for underserved populations at risk.

The Community Free Clinic plans to use its $50,000 grant to pay for general operating expenses, such as paying for medicine and supplies, said the Rev. Charles McGinley, president of the clinic's board of directors.

McGinley said the clinic, which gives free health care to uninsured residents of Washington County, is grateful for the award.

"We are so dependent on the generosity of organizations, the community and people to help us," he said.

McGinley said the clinic, which is in need of volunteers, is visited 10,000 times per year and gives out about $60,000 worth of medicine per month, which largely is donated by doctors and pharmaceutical companies.

The Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, which received a $25,000 grant, plans to use its funds to continue a teen peer-education program, "Tomorrow's Leaders," for its second year, said Buck Browning, director of operations for the club.

Browning said he hopes the program, which targets the HotSpots area and will address teen pregnancy, substance abuse, lack of technology access and unhealthy lifestyles, will more than double its graduating class this year, which finished with 14 students.

He said the health system's grant enabled the club to receive $50,000 from the Washington County Community Partnership, a much-needed match to the program's first-year cost of $75,000.

Turning Point of Washington County plans to use its $20,000 grant to hire an addictions specialist, a position the local agency would not have been able to afford without the grant, said Executive Director Peter Shubiak.

Shubiak said the agency, which serves about 200 people per month, has many clients with mental illnesses and chemical addictions and wants to enhance its services to them.

Dr. Mary Money accepted a $5,000 grant on behalf of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Association and the Community Foundation of Washington County to pay for the shipping of blood and stool samples to her co-researcher, Dr. Jaroslaw Walkowiak, who is based in Poznam, Poland.

Money said they are researching the "hypothesis that the diarrhea variety of irritable bowel syndrome is due to the inheritance of a minor genetic change that affects intestinal juices when triggered by a particular food," much like when a person's eyes tear while an onion is being cut.

She said about 10 percent to 25 percent of any population has problems with irritable bowel syndrome.

"This could benefit a huge portion of the community," she said.

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