Hannibal Free Clinic Manager Sharon Webster gave lots of hugs as she joined fellow officials in thanking everyone who supported the local nonprofit medical care facility on Thursday, Feb. 21 at Hannibal-LaGrange University.
The Hannibal Free Clinic has provided health care since 2007 to local residents between the ages of 18 and 65 without access to basic healthcare, and its operation depends on volunteer assistance from staff members and medical providers, along with individual and group donations and community fundraising support.
Webster said more than 100 new patients received care at the clinic in 2018, underscoring the ongoing need for the services it provides and the support received from local residents. Each year, the Hannibal Free Clinic's appreciation luncheon is dedicated to recognizing the people who help make each year successful.
"It's always good to honor the volunteers and to say thank you to them and our donors — so they know how much we appreciate it, and to let some of them who don't work directly with the patients to see a little bit of what we do," she said.
Webster said the video presentation helped "put a face to the people they're helping," telling the story of two patients and how the care they received at the Hannibal Free Clinic affected their lives.
Webster said the "Power of $2.50" campaign, started by her husband, Charles, is an easy way for people to donate to the Hannibal Free Clinic with a monthly signup option. Costs for the clinic total about $3 million each year, and Webster said that purchases have doubled for diabetic testing supplies and materials.
Board Chair Joel Booth recognized retiring board member Ann Cary for her service. Webster announced the recipients of the Heart Beat Awards, the Caring Heart Award and the SOS (Support of Service) Award.
Linda Coleberd, owner of Mark Twain Cave, received the 2019 Support of Service Award for supporting the clinic through the annual Rib and Wing Fest. Heavy rainfall canceled the event last year at the campgrounds, but Coleberd helped assure that officials could provide documentation that the rainfall was too great to host the event. Webster said she looks forward to the upcoming Rib and Wing Fest on Saturday, Sept. 7.
"Linda has been so generous to allow the Free Clinic to host our annual Rib and Wing Fest at the Cave's picnic and park area," she said. "She has not charged us for the use of her facility and has been very welcoming to our group."
The Caring Heart Award was presented to Dr. John Dennehy, who has donated chiropractic services at the Free Clinic since 2016. Dennehy and volunteer provider Dr. Matthew Sorrell have provided more than 1,500 patient visits — Dr. Dennehy was responsible for almost one-third of the visits in 2018.
"Dr. Dennehy is always cheerful and compassionate with our patients, and he will stay as late as needed to make sure everyone gets all the care they need," Webster said. "He will also take care of our patients in his office if he needs equipment that he cannot bring with him to the Free Clinic."
The Heart Beat Awards are presented to volunteers who constantly help keep the clinic running. The first honoree was volunteer Deb Burditt, who joined the Free Clinic team following her retirement from Hannibal Regional. She assists with tasks like medication assistance applications and medical records requests.
"She will pitch in and do whatever is needed to keep the office running," Webster said.
Office Assistant Linda Chou also received a Heart Beat Award, serving multiple roles including working with volunteers, answering the phone, making appointments and establishing initial contact with patients. Webster said Chou also willingly takes on other duties around the office.
"She truly is the heartbeat that keeps the office going," Webster said.
Sharon's husband, Charles, received a Heart Beat Award for his support through the "Power of $2.50" fundraising campaign and his yearly dedication to the Rib and Wing Fest.
"Even though Charles does not usually volunteer within the clinic walls, he has been instrumental in keeping the clinic going," she said. "He was involved in getting the Rib and Wing Festival started and keeping it going each year. And he helped sell 1,100 racks of ribs in less than six hours when the event had to be canceled last September."
Booth shared the Hannibal Free Clinic's motto: "The patients are our purpose," as he joined Webster in thanking everyone for their support. For more information about the Hannibal Free Clinic or how to volunteer your time or donations, please visithannibalfreeclinic.org.