Representatives of Women Who Care Muskegon County , visited the Oakridge Teen Health Center this week to present the Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan more than 280 $100 checks from individual women. This donation will benefit the health center based at Oakridge Middle School at the center of the multi-school campus.
Women Who Care gather four times a year for a one-hour meeting, learn about local charities, and each member donates a $100 check to a charity that the group selects. This combined donation makes a powerful impact for local organizations without time-consuming fundraising events. Muskegon’s chapter, led by Sue Allore, Julie Donahue and Ashley Schnotala, is part of the worldwide 100 Who Care Alliance.
At the group’s March meeting, Andrea Masvero, Executive Director of the Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan, told about the absence of healthcare and dental providers in the northeast quadrant of the Muskegon community east of US-31 and north of Apple Avenue.
“If I told you that students didn’t have access to care, you might think I meant that they didn’t have insurance, or the means to pay for a doctor visit. For children in this part of our community, they literally do not have nearby care or the physical means to travel to care. There is no public transportation, their parents are working, and the average time to a doctor’s office is 30 minutes. The result is that kids have been going without basic healthcare.”
She told how Oakridge Superintendent Tom Livezey noticed the detrimental effects not only on student health, but on attendance, academic performance, and behavioral issues. He began working with Linda Juarez of Hackley Community Care and other local supporters to find a way to bring healthcare to the students. Hackley Community Care (HCC), a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves the under-served population of Muskegon County, has extensive experience with school based clinical care. HCC is a key partner in this project who has oversight, operates, and staffs the clinic. That’s how the vision for an on-campus medical, dental and behavioral health clinic was born.
Masvero said that when the Osteopathic Foundation was approached for a grant to fund a substantial portion of the costs to convert four classrooms into the clinic, the Board of Directors were astounded to learn the degree of the need and readily committed $140,000, rather than waiting for fundraising efforts. Thus, the clinic opened and began serving students more quickly.
The Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan supports projects that fill critical and strategic gaps in wellness resources to ensure that every Lakeshore resident has local access to health care now and in the future. In addition to grants, scholarships, and educational programs, this includes startup funding for clinics that meet key health needs. The Oakridge Health Center is one such project. She asked the women to consider donating to a defined fund at the Foundation that would directly benefit the Oakridge Health Center.
The Osteopathic Foundation has raised $37,000 toward the goal so far, and the donation from Women Who Care will add another $28,000 to the total. The Foundation is hosting a golf event on June 23 to raise the remaining funds.
“We are so grateful that Women Who Care saw the need and were willing to join us in meeting it,” Masvero said. “We hear story after story of this clinic improving the lives of students and families, reducing self-harm, resolving dental issues that have been causing pain for several years – things students have struggled with that we can’t even imagine.”
Photo Left to Right: Andrea Masvero, Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan; Joshua Joshua, DDS, Hackley Community Care; Tom Livezey, Oakridge Public Schools; Sue Allore and Julie Donahue, Muskegon Women Who Care; Linda Juarez, Hackley Community Care; Steve Oginsky, PA-C, Hackley Community Care; Mark Fazakerley, Osteopathic Foundation of West Michigan Board of Directors; Judy Pruim, LBSW, Hackley Community Care