One non-profit agency helping out another

As a non-profit agency that serves a less fortunate segment of the community, Shelter, Inc. knows the importance of generosity. A safe haven for victims of domestic violence, Shelter often is on the receiving end of many donations and offers of assistance from local clubs, businesses, churches and individuals.

In light of all the help received, the employees at Shelter decided to show their appreciation by helping another non-profit agency in town. On Friday, 12 of them congregated at Alpena’s Free Clinic located inside First Presbyterian Church, where they painted three exams rooms and a hallway, plus cleaned up a storeroom.

“We are always trying to find something we can do to help the community that does so much for us,” said staff member Sandy Skaluba. “It’s the least we can do.”

Rev. Steve Hammond, the pastor at First Presbyterian and a physician assistant who started the Free Clinic five years ago, said the efforts of Shelter were much appreciated.

“We’re very grateful they were able to come and donate all of their time and energy to refresh the clinic walls and organize the storeroom,” Hammond said.

The Free Clinic serves the uninsured population of the community and averages a little over 1,000 patients a year. Since opening its doors, the clinic has logged over 6,500 clinic visits. Currently, six physicians, five physician assistants, 12 nurses, office staff and transcriptionists volunteer their time to help those needing medical care.

“Unfortunately, the clinic fills a real need in the community,” Hammond said of the number of uninsured who come in seeking free medical care.

Patients are seen on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8:30 p.m. with appointments recommended. Due to one volunteer physician recently moving out of the area and several other retired physicians who have been helping no longer being available after the first of the year, Hammond said there is a need for more doctors to help out.

From a financial standpoint, the clinic operates on a shoestring budget.

“It doesn’t take a lot to keep the clinic going,” he said. “There’s no overhead. We spend all of our money on supplies. The biggest expense is our insurance, which is $5,000 a year on a budget of $3,500. Community groups have been very good about supporting us and we get a grant from Blue Cross/Blue Shield.”

In addition to supplying manpower on Friday, Skaluba said Shelter employees also were taking up a donation to present to the Free Clinic. Following their workbee, the staff planned to hold their annual picnic on site at the church.

Last year, Shelter held its annual employee picnic at Dinosaur Gardens in Ossineke, where employees cleaned up around the park and also helped to plant flowers.