By GRACE GADDY
A project aimed at providing free and low-cost health care to community members reached a milestone recently, when the WHC Clinic in Anderson County was able to purchase necessary dental equipment, thanks to a $25,000 donation from The Action Fund, given Feb. 6.
Under leadership by John and Shirley Shaddock, the WHC (formerly known as the Women’s Health Connections Clinic) provides medical care to men, women and children who are uninsured, indigent or who can’t afford health care — such as those with large families. The clinic is run completely by volunteers, including physicians.
During a celebratory ceremony held Thursday at the clinic, clinic office manager Shirley Shaddock told members of The Action Fund how it all began, adding that much of it would not have been possible without their help.
“We started out just seeing women only, and the need arose to see men and families,” Shaddock said. “Our only requirement for this clinic is that they (patients) have no insurance. They can opt in and pay our office visit charge, or they can fill out a sliding-scale fee (document) which will help them with their office visit if they can't afford it.
“And so just to see the dental part is so exciting to me, because that was the end of my project. Getting the clinic here was the beginning, getting that dental up and running was the end — although I'm not leaving,” Shaddock added with a laugh, “but it's just nice seeing it finally all come together.”
Sharing in her excitement, members of the fund were able to tour clinic facilities Thursday to see where their donations went.
“This is the dental room,” Shaddock said, leading a group. “This is our launching of the project that The Action Fund donated $25,000 to us for.”
In addition to the dental examination room, the clinic also has a standard reception area, office space, exam rooms, a restroom, a break room and lab. Upon entering the dental examination room, Shaddock motioned to a dental chair in the center of the room and surrounding equipment.
“We had some of the big pieces, but we were missing a lot of the little stuff that doesn't look like it adds up to much, but it does. So we've refurbished this chair, and that saved us some money where we can actually get the rest of the equipment we needed to start our dental project.”
The site of the clinic, located near the old memorial hospital, is owned by Anderson County. Prior to its current use, the building served as a storage warehouse. The Anderson County Commissioners Court offered the building to the Shaddocks to be used for the clinic, and county commissioners and employees volunteered to fix it up and make repairs.
County Commissioner Greg Chapin told attendants Thursday that Anderson County was proud to be involved.
“We get to see the needs of these people,” Chapin said. “It's so sad, they don't have anywhere to go, and they come into our offices... it was just a big goal for us to come in and be able to help.”
According to Action Fund Executive Committee Chair Ahnise Summers, who also spoke during Thursday's ceremony, The Action Fund is a “giving circle” of philanthropic individuals that formed in response to community needs. It is a program of the Texas Area Fund Foundation, which promotes philanthropic spirit and community service, and responding to charitable needs.
“We are concerned about community issues and community solutions,” Summers said. “By joining The Action Fund, you have become a partner in helping us grow opportunities that will allow all who live and work in this community to thrive.”
Summers said the fund focuses on making improvements in education, health and human services, art and culture, and preservation and beautification.
“This is an educational process,” she said. “We learn about philanthropy, and we learn about the needs in our community. We find solutions, we stimulate change, we impact lives and we're transforming our community. That's our plan, and we're doing it.”
As for progress, board member David Barnard told attendants that the organization has already collected $26,000 in pledges for next year.
“Our goal for next year is we want to be able to give away twice as much as we did last year, so $50,000,” he said. “And it can be done. We did this last year in about two or three months, just communicating with people, pooling your money.”
Barnard called it a “seed fund,” explaining that the goal is to award “one-time donations” to organizations in order to meet needs and kickstart community-based efforts.
As for the clinic, Shaddock said The Action Fund's donation definitely allowed for specific needs to be met, though she hopes to acquire more support from the community.
“There's still more great needs,” she told attendants Thursday. “The biggest asset that you guys could do for us is be our advocates, be our ambassadors. We need more doctors, we need more dentists, we need more medical staff, nurse practitioners, all of them — and you're our best resource to gaining that, the community.
“And I just want to thank you guys for being a part of this. It was awesome.”
The WHC is located at 205 E. Brazos St. To contact the clinic, call 902-729-3015.