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Anonymous donor offers up to $10,000 for community aid groups

October 10, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — An anonymous donor has, for the third year in a row, offered to match up to $10,000 in donations for each of three struggling, local nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless, people with no health insurance, and low-income seniors who need housing, leaders for those three organizations said Wednesday.

The three organizations are the Community Free Clinic; REACH of Washington County, whose programs include a cold weather shelter for the homeless; and Holly Place, a nonprofit assisted-living facility for low-income seniors.

The donor has agreed to match, dollar for dollar, donations made from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15, up to $10,000, for each of the three nonprofit groups, officials with the organizations said.

“I was elated; very, very humbled; very grateful,” said Robin Roberson, executive director for the Community Free Clinic at 249 Mill St. in Hagerstown.

“I’m just incredibly humbled and very grateful,” REACH Executive Director Jodie Ostoich said.

“I think it’s wonderful. It’s so generous and God provides. That’s all I can say because it is so needed, and it’s a miracle for us because we rely so heavily on donations to keep our doors open,” Holly Place Executive Director Melanie Davis said.

“It’s through generous people like that, that keeps us here to offer these low-income people a home that they need so much,” Davis said.

Holly Place, at 268 S. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, is at capacity with 15 residents, Davis said.

Asked about the status of Holly Place’s financial situation, Davis said, basically, it’s been day to day since Holly Place opened 24 years ago.

All three groups were able to raise more than $10,000 during the time period for the past two challenges, officials said.

Holly Place raised more than $40,000 trying to get a match last year, Davis said.

REACH raised approximately $82,000 during the eight-week period last year, Ostoich said.

Roberson said the Community Free Clinic raised more than $10,000 during last year’s challenge, but she didn’t have the exact figure.

Almost a year ago the clinic stopped seeing new patients due to funding issues. The clinic began seeing new patients again on Feb. 1, Roberson said.

Since Feb. 1, the clinic has seen 342 new patients, the highest number for new patients the clinic has ever had over a stretch of time that long, Roberson said.

The greatest demand for the clinic’s services is during the winter when seasonal expenses force some people to choose between paying for heat or food, or for heat or medication, Roberson said.

The clinic is managing about 2,500 patients, she said. Some only come to the clinic a few times for an illness such as bronchitis, while others have been treated at the clinic for years due to chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, she said.

“Diabetes is our No. 1 challenge,” Roberson said.

The clinic continues to operate Monday through Thursday, after cutting Friday hours in November 2011 to save on operational costs, she said.

“I don’t think people realize what a difference ($10,000) or $20,000 makes,” Roberson said.

The average one-year cost for a patient at the clinic is $299, including medication and bloodwork, she said.

The clinic has one paid nurse practitioner and about 35 volunteer medical personnel, including doctors and nurses, Roberson said. Approximately 80 specialists in the community see clinic patients for little or no charge, she said.

“We never have an abundance of funding. It’s always day-to-day,” Roberson said.

The clinic does not receive any guaranteed funding, Roberson said.

REACH operates the cold weather shelter at 140 W. Franklin St., Suite 300, which will open Oct. 28 for the cold weather season, Ostoich said.

The nonprofit’s day resource program, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays, provides a place to get out of the weather, make phone calls, and provide people information and referrals to different community agencies, Ostoich said.

REACH also helps people with crisis needs, such as financial assistance for evictions, she said.

“We’re not doing too bad. We were a little shorter on some of the grants this year,” Ostoich said.

Ostoich said she was pleased donations “seem to be keeping pace” with what REACH budgeted.

Because REACH has been working on its strategic plan this year, it is skipping its biggest annual fundraiser this year, Taste of the Town, and holding more smaller fundraisers for the year, Ostoich said. Sunrise Rotary’s Oct. 28 auction at the Hagerstown Elks Club will benefit REACH, she said.


How to donate

Community Free Clinic of Washington County
Send a check payable to Community Free Clinic to 249 Mill St., Hagerstown, MD 21740, or donate online at www.cfcwc.com. For more information, call 301-733-9234.

Holly Place
Send a check payable to Holly Place to 268 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown, MD 21740. For more information, call 301-733-3008.

REACH Caregivers
Send a check payable to REACH to 140 W. Franklin St., Suite 300, Hagerstown, MD 21740, or make a donation online at www.reachcaregivers.org. For more information, call 301-733-2371.

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