Story by Count Darling, Clinic Volunteer
Over 350 Neapolitans attended the 10th Annual Neighborhood Health Clinic fund raising party Saturday evening at the Naples Beach Club. One guest when asked what impressed him most answered, “The Excitement … from the moment we arrived! We were greeted by many old friends and introduced to many new ones as well.”
Excitement is a very fitting way to describe this gala affair featuring the music of the popular duo Cahlua and Cream and NBC-2 News Anchor Kellie Burns as the emcee. Dr. George Ferguson, Board Chair-Elect, was the Clinic host, welcoming guests and thanking them for their faithful support.
Ferguson recalled the first night of the Clinic on April 12, 1999, when eight patients were treated. As for the future, there are healthcare reforms at every level but, Ferguson told the audience, the needs of only a portion of uninsured Americans will be met and the Neighborhood Health Clinic will continue to be the safety net providing quality medical and dental care for these hardworking men and women. This was confirmed by a needs assessment performed by the Hodges University Johnson School of Business.
Co-Founders Bill and Nancy Lascheid graciously thanked those who have believed in the vision and supported the mission of the Clinic. They gave special thanks to Presenting Patrons Pat and Vince Foglia who have been directly involved since it was just an idea on paper. Dr. Lascheid said, “Many lives have been improved and saved because of the Foglia’s compassion.”
The Lascheids also recognized the leadership team of Nina Gray, who has been with the Clinic first as a volunteer, then CEO and now the Chief Advancement Officer; and CEO Leslie Lascheid, daughter of the co-founders who, even while having a successful career of her own, has been “hands on” since the idea of the Clinic was first discussed. Ms. Lascheid said “The Clinic must continue to grow and expand its services to address the number of chronic illnesses plaguing our patients and the ability of the Clinic to meet the needs and numbers of medically uninsured working poor depends on the support of our community.”
A short film entitled “A Story with Heart” featuring Clinic patient Betty Calixte told the story of one patient who came to the Clinic for what seemed a mild ailment but as it turned out her illness was more severe than initially thought. She is now in college pursuing a career in nursing and dreams of working at the Clinic to help give back to those who helped her.
And then, the excitement really began. Emcee Kellie Burns introduced the very entertaining auctioneer, Mark Schenfield, who returned for the second year. Mr. Schenfield immediately got the crowd stirred up with such enticing items as classic wines, one of a kind jewelry, cashmere shawls and gift certificates from several of Naples’ most acclaimed bistros. There was a drawing for $10,000 which created even more excitement!
Finally, came an evening to remember for the winning couple and six of their guests. Aptly entitled Eight on the Town, this progressive dinner begins at the Clinic and then, traveling in style, to a four course dinner, with Dr. & Mrs. Lascheid, Dr. Paul & Susan Jones (Chair of the Block Party), Dr. George & Grace Ferguson, and finally, dessert with Mr. Chet and Jane Scholtz. There was a great deal of excitement spurred on by the auctioneer and the lively crowd.
This party is the primary fundraising event of the Clinic which is supported by donations from individuals, foundations, businesses and other organizations. 90% of these donations go directly to patient care. The Clinic does not receive any government assistance. The ten full time paid staff members are supported by 732 volunteers – 250 doctors, 250 nurses and 232 non-medical administrative support professionals. Since that first night in 1999, more than 14,000 working men and women have been treated at the Clinic. Many, many illnesses have been cured and many lives saved. This year’s event raised approximately $406,000.