JONESVILLE — The Grace Clinic celebrated the successes of its past year of service to the surrounding communities Thursday evening at the Jonesville First Baptist Church. The clinic’s Board of Directors, staff and volunteers got together to enjoy a nice dinner while reflecting on this year’s accomplishments, plans for the future, and reward their Lynn Sloan Barnes Volunteer Award.
“Every year we have our annual meeting with the Grace Clinic,” said John Freas, a member of the Grace Clinic Board of Directors. “It’s sort of a combination of showing people what the clinic’s been doing and giving a few words to people about our outstanding service.”
After a brief welcome from Chairman Steve Newman and a blessing from the Rev. Mark Barden, everyone settled down to a nice dinner. The clinic held its business meeting, starting with some opening remarks from Newman.
“Grace Clinic is probably one of the most wonderful organizations I have ever been associated with in my life and also holds the most wonderful people I have worked with. I have seen more happen with this organization than I’ve seen in my entire business career,” said Newman. “Someone told me the other day ‘you don’t see a lot of good people anymore’ and I stopped him and said ‘wait a minute, there’s lots of good people out there.’ I want to thank everyone for everything you do for Grace Clinic because it’s a good thing we do in trying to help everybody.”
Newman announced the changes to the clinic’s Board of Directors. Director Jed Metts stepped down from the board this year. Metts was a given a plaque to thank him for his services.
As Metts stepped down from the board, Betty Taylor graciously accepted the position to join the board.
“She is very levelheaded,” said Newman. “She is from the Dobson area which we needed a representative of. She has been involved with the clinic for about six months, has been very involved in fundraising and has given hours and hours of her time into this organization. I think she will be a wonderful replacement.”
Dr. Stephen Erlandson gave a history of the clinic and the impact it has left on the community.
The Grace Clinic was established in 2005 by Lynn Sloan Barnes with the support of the Rev. Ralph Shipp and Dr. Stephen Erlandson as the Tri-County Resource Center at the Elkin First United Methodist Church. The center provided patients with prescription medications through a voucher system with local pharmacies. As the need for low income health care rose, the clinic moved to Grassy Creek United Methodist Church where its services expanded and became a “medical home” with the support of local physicians. Later in 2008, the clinic moved to 170 Claremont Drive.
Barnes passed away in 2011. Her dedication and commitment to the clinic and to serve others who lacked the access to proper health care have been an inspiration for many. The clinic moved to 110 Dutchman Court on the second floor in 2015 where it changed its name to the Grace Clinic of Yadkin Valley.
“It’s not a job. It’s an opportunity to help others and serve others,” said Erlandson. “We want to be there to meet the needs of folks who have chronic diseases, who need insulin, and who need other medications on an ongoing basis. The vast majority of our patients are poor people who have very few resources. Some are the working poor. They have part times jobs or jobs that don’t offer health insurance. They need the clinic and we do a great service to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital by keeping these folks out of the emergency room. I’ve been truly impressed with the commitment the board, the staff, and the volunteers have made in support of the clinic and in helping others.”
Patient Vaughn Burke told his stories of being a patient with Grace Clinic.
“If something really touches your heart, you carry that with you through your life,” said Burke. “In 2009, I was carried off over to Wilkes Regional and I was told I wouldn’t live. But I got lucky. God had already had a plan in motion. It wasn’t my time to go but it was my time to find some help and I found that help with the Grace Clinic. After all that happened, I kept coming to the Grace Clinic and kept seeing people here and I can tell you from my experience that I would be in the cemetery today if it wasn’t for the clinic. The Grace Clinic in essence has saved my life and I can’t thank them enough.”
Finally, Newman presented the Lynn Sloan Barnes Volunteer of the Year Award to Phyllis Qualheim to thank her for her contributions to the clinic. The dinner ended with a closing prayer by Barden.
In this past year, the Grace Clinic provided $1,161,000 worth of free medications to patients and $2,180,000 total in services. Newman said he is proud of those numbers but he believes that those numbers are not the ones that are the most important to the organization.
“Hugh (Quinn, executive director) talked about a lot of numbers and they are absolutely amazing,” said Newman. “However, we are able to help those patients who come to us. Going out and fundraising, we have found lots and lots of people who do not know about Grace Clinic and did not know that there was somewhere they could go to get help. I think the biggest number is how many people out there who need our help have not yet been helped. I’ve been a diabetic for 40 years and I have insurance. If I didn’t have insurance, my insulin would be about $400 a month. You’ve got to have a lot of money to pay for that. What we want to do is if there’s anybody out there that needs our help, those are the people we want to reach.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.