Lincolntonâ€™s Helping Hands Health Clinic is a model for volunteerism. So, the recent announcement by Gov. Mike Easley recognizing it as one of the Outstanding Volunteer Services organizations of western North Carolina is not a surprise.
During its early organizational period in 2002, board members speculated it would take two years to get the up and going to meet the health needs of the indigent. It took only six months, thanks to volunteers and donations.
The building that houses Helping Hands is itself a gift ($1 a year lease) of good will from the family of the late Dr. Murphy Cronland, a Lincolnton physician known for his volunteer work. The actual work of the clinic rides on the shoulders of volunteers, many of them employees of Lincoln Medical Center.
It is recognition of this volunteerism that last year provided the clinic with a $100,000 grant from The Duke Endowment fund to hire an executive director. Carole Pendleton took that position in the fall of last year.
The number of clients is rising, thanks to the increased resources. In addition to Lincoln Countyâ€™s own volunteer doctors, Dr. John Warlick, a semi-retired doctor from Gastonia, is now volunteering his time. That allows the clinic to take in 30 more patients a week. A grant awarded in January from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation brought about important changes with its promise of $15,000 to the clinic each year for five years. As a result, Lori White, administrative assistant, and Diane Brogden, pharmacy technician, are now on Pendletonâ€™s staff.
Congratulations to all of the volunteers and to a very dedicated board of directors that makes this valuable resource available to the many people who need it so desperately.