Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I’ve lived in Richmond for 6 years and have been with VACFF for 2.5 years. I relocated to the area to work as the Director Development for the National MS Society. I also spent 13 years working for YMCAs in North Carolina.
The VAFCC is the umbrella organization for the free clinics across the Commonwealth. We provide educational and training opportunities for the staff and volunteers at the clinics. In my position, I plan and execute the statewide conference, attended by about 250 people annually. It’s an opportunity for the folks that work in the clinics to network, as well as share best practices and get the latest information on clinical topics. Additionally, I create a monthly e-newsletter of resources for free clinics — everything from training and grant opportunities to fundraising ideas.
Free clinics do the heavy lifting of providing the actual health care services to people without insurance. They offer medical, dental, mental health and pharmacy services to more than 75,000 Virginia residents.
What inspires you about your work?
This position has opened my eyes to the state of health care not only in Virginia but in America. The fact that more than 400,000 people in Virginia do not have health insurance and do not qualify for insurance through the Affordable Care Act is not how we should care for the working poor.
We receive dozens of calls every week at our offices from people looking for medical and dental services. Sometimes they live in a part of Virginia that has no options for them, if they don’t have insurance. It breaks my heart to tell people that I cannot help them. On the flip side, my day is made when I am able to help connect someone with services that are desperately needed. I almost cried the day a woman informed me that she was able to get an appointment at a dental clinic and finally get her infected teeth taken care of — she was thanking me for helping her locate a facility.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA?
ConnectVA is a great resources for promoting any public event that we are hosting. Last year we celebrated our 20th Anniversary and took nominations from the public for recognition awards for organizations and people who made a difference to the free clinics. It was wonderful to be able to post that information on ConnectVA with a link to the nomination information. I also encourage our free clinics in Central Virginia to use ConnectVA and to promote their services, events, items needed, and more.
What’s coming next?
My current project is organizing our November conference, which will be held in Norfolk. It’s always exciting to plan workshops and recruit presenters to make it the best experience possible for the clinics.
If anyone is interested in volunteering at a free clinic, just let me know and I’ll be happy to connect you. In addition to medical volunteers, they also need administrative volunteers as well as people who speak other languages and can provide translation for patients.