If you know me personally, have read my blog or Facebook pages, you know how passionate I am about the healthcare crisis in our country. The average family in America, making $50,000 per year is paying over $18,000 per year in PREMIUMS. The median income for our community is $16,000. How can anyone not understand that this is a problem?
This year, my premiums were going to exceed $20,000 making my monthly payment approach $2,000 per month. In fact, our premium has exceeded any other payments we have – including our house payment. Our only option was to switch to a High Deductible HSA plan. Basically a catastrophic plan – where we now pay $600 for our premium – BUT we have an $11,200 deductible. ELEVEN THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED DOLLAR deductible – you read that correct. This is NOT insurance.
I knew we could not be alone in this struggle – so I began researching this and asking other small business owners what they were doing for insurance. My findings were staggering. Most of them are UNINSURED! These are reputable small business owners – operating businesses in our community.
My parent’s always told me that you have two choices in life – accept things as they are or work to change them. We do not have any real political power – so we looked for ways in our community to make a difference. Through this process we met Andres Montes, a student at Georgia Southern, who shared our passion for providing healthcare to those who simply can not afford it. I remember when I would hear stories of people who did not have healthcare for one reason or the other and I would judge them negatively. It is different now. As the old saying goes, “Walk a mile in their moccasins”, and due to cancer, I have. We were so impressed with Andres and his vision that we decided to partner with him.
A great friend and client of mine, author and mentor, Dr. John Maxwell says this:
“People don’t resent being asked for a great commitment if there is a great purpose behind it.”
With this quote in mind – we went to work “asking for a great commitment” recruiting volunteers, board members, medical professionals and others that shared our vision. So MANY of you said YES – THANK YOU! Because of you, last September, our dream became a reality and thanks to Pastor John Long, Andres and so many others – we helped open the Hearts and Hands FREE Clinic in our community. The clinic would provide Medical, Dental and Optometry care to our target group of the “working poor” in our community. Hundreds of our community, state and national leaders were in attendance.
What happened next, none of us could anticipate, was the FLOOD of applications from our community. (We only serve Bulloch County at the present time) I had NO idea how GREAT the need was. So we doubled our efforts and worked harder to identify resources to help us meet the needs. Many of you opened your hearts and wallets and have given generously. The Bulloch County Hospital Authority gave us a HUGE head start with a $15,000 grant, then the local homebuilders stepped up and gave $500. Edie Grace even held a Birthday Fundraiser and instead of asking for birthday gifts she requested donations to the clinic. So many others of you followed suit.
But our need was greater and our vision larger. Board President, George Chappell went to work on writing a grant request from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation. Dr. Bill Perry and Dr. Ed Johnson, along with Pastor John Long and others worked tirelessly to help George with the grant and help educate the organization of our needs.
Today, DeWayne traveled to Atlanta and received the $120,000 check from Dr. Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Convention.
This wonderful grant reconfirms our purpose and adds greater responsibility to our commitment to step up even more for our community. Our goal is to double these funds in our community. This sounds like an impossible task but If every student at Georgia Southern gave just $6.00 (the cost of a small pizza) we could double it. In addition to funds, we need volunteers – medical and non medical. LOTS of volunteers…
Watch for a launched web site coming soon, which will have weekly updates on our needs and continued progress.
Another great friend and client, Dr. Michael Guido based his entire ministry on Jesus’ Parable of the Sower. He was even known as THE SOWER and his messages were called, SEEDS FROM THE SOWER. He was the master of sowing seeds. Tonight, our hope is that he is looking down on everyone involved in this effort and everyone reading this and smiling gently, as he did so famously, in recognition of the time he invested in so many us – teaching us patiently the importance of sowing seeds – everyday.
A very special employee of ours gave DeWayne and I the book, The Prodigal God, written by one of my new favorite authors,Timothy Keller. This has become our guide stone for this project:
Keller writes, “In Matthew 25, Jesus describes Judgment Day. Many will stand there and call him “Lord,” but Jesus says, stunningly, that if they had not been serving the hungry, the refugees, the sick, the prisoners, then they hadn’t been serving Him. There is no contradiction to what we have heard from Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal son. He is not saying that only social workers get into heaven. Rather, He is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor. Younger brothers are too selfish and elder brothers are too self-righteous to care for the poor.”
Thank you for sharing this with us. If you are not involved, please join our effort – in whatever way God leads you!