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On the town

Free Clinic: Help us aid the victims

By MARY JANE PARK
Published September 25, 2005


In the face of heart-breaking, terrifying conditions, people often are overwhelmed. We feel helpless in the face of these monster storms, and to some extent we are.

Jane Egbert, executive director of St. Petersburg's Free Clinic, reminds us that the smallest contributions are valuable.

"What I would hope people would realize is what difference $25, $50 or $100 can make," she said last week. "That's how this organization has worked for years."

After Katrina, some evacuees ended up at the clinic, which provides numerous services for the needy.

"One woman was so overcome with the help offered her that she could not stop weeping," Egbert wrote in a letter to clinic supporters. "The combination of her experiences, her loss, and the kindness given just overwhelmed her.

"Just before the storm hit, a man with heart blockage had stents inserted to help relieve his cardiac problems. (The family) left before the storm but arrived in St. Petersburg without any cardiac medications. The Free Clinic health center was able to help him see a cardiologist and provide appropriate medications."

The clinic's medical supply closet donated 200 items - walkers, toilets, crutches, wheelchairs and wound kits - to health groups that went to New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.

St. Petersburg residents who don't have telephones called from the clinic, trying to find family who lived in the storm area and those who had evacuated.

Food donated especially for the Katrina relief effort went to other centralized recovery groups.

"These requests have not been large, nor have they particularly been out of the ordinary," Egbert wrote. ... "Problems of hunger, shelter and loss occur, however, on a regular basis."

Rita's devastation will mean more requests, and the clinic still gives assistance to people in this community. Egbert is concerned that there are enough resources to help at home and elsewhere.

"We certainly hope that (supporters) will continue to think about our local situations," she said last week. "There are quieter disasters that are happening right here."

The clinic and other similar organizations always are on the ropes financially.

"The pinch is coming from all directions for all of us," Egbert said, with mounting insurance costs, increasing demand and costlier fuel for trucks that pick up and deliver food.

"Our community as a whole has a wonderful, generous heart, which has been proven over the years," she said. "We are dependent upon people in the community understanding that we are here."

Looking ahead

Monday

MEMBERSHIP COFFEE: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Guild event. 11:30 a.m. Private home. 576-6424.

Thursday

FESTIVAL OF STATES FALL SOCIAL: Suncoasters event. Mezzanine and terrace, Renaissance Vinoy Resort, 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. Business or cocktail attire; Suncoasters wear blue jacket, gray slacks or skirt. 6:30-8:30 p.m. 321-9888.

IMAGINE, BELIEVE, ACHIEVE: Dinner honors 2005 Personal Enrichment through Mental Health Services (PEMHS) PEMHS Applauds Community Endeavor (PACE) Awards honorees. 6 p.m. Mirror Lake Lyceum, 727 Third Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $30. 545-6477, ext. 316.

Friday

ARMCHAIR HORSE RACING: GFWC St. Petersburg Woman's Club event also features covered-dish dinner. 6:30 p.m. St. Petersburg Woman's Club, 40 Snell Isle Blvd. NE. $15. Reservations required. 895-3131.

Saturday

A DAY IN HISTORIC DRIFTWOOD: St. Petersburg Museum of History benefit features lunch, tour of homes, guided history walks, re-enactment of Union raid, landing of vintage seaplane, and display of vintage yachts and cars. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $15 members, $20 nonmembers. 894-1052, ext. 200.

FASHION SHOW, MAKEOVER MAGIC: Resurrection House Auxiliary brunch features fashions and accessories from Marion's, Stein Mart; hair, makeup by area professionals. 10 a.m. the Orange Blossom, 220 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. $40. 823-4742.

PICNIC OUTBACK: Academy Prep St. Petersburg event honors students, families, supporters. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 2301 22nd Ave. S. 322-0800. Rain date: Oct. 8.

Mary Jane Park can be reached at 727 893-8267; fax (727) 893-8675; e-mail park@sptimes.com P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

[Last modified September 25, 2005, 02:15:40]


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