The 13th annual fundraising gala for the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic exceeded all expectations by raising an unprecedented $708,000 – enough to provide about 15,000 patient visits for the next year.
Under the chairmanship of Joe Day and Ann Northrop, the January 26 “America the Beautiful” gala drew over 250 guests to the Mariner Sands Country Club. Day and Northrop originally set the fundraising goal at $500,000, then kick-started the effort with a $100,000 donation that was quickly matched by George and Patsy Conrades, then the Frances Langford Foundation.
“Volunteers in Medicine is a terrific organization,” said Mike Crary, secretary of The Friends of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. The FVIM board of directors oversee the financial and fund-raising activities for VIM Clinic.
“Every dollar donated to
Volunteers in Medicine buys a multiple of dollars of free medical car for the needy in our community,” Crary said. “So it’s a very worthy cause, a very humanitarian cause.”
Other major supporters included philanthropist, David L. Smythe, who became Honorary Chair of the fundraising gala after learning more about VIM Clinic’s mission of providing primary care to the medical indigent of Martin County.
“I’m only a giver, that’s all. I just sign a piece of paper,” he said. “These are the people that do all the work, and it’s so wonderful to see exactly what they do.”
Guests were delighted by a color guard provided by the JROTC of South Fork High School. Under the watchful eye of Command Sergeant Major Efrem Z. Evans, cadets escorted guests from their cars to the gala entrance, where they were crisply greeted with raised swords and an honor guard.
In keeping with the gala theme, attendees were encouraged to wear their military dress and honors. Some saluted the honor guard as they entered. Others were surprised to discover that CSM Evans was himself a combat hero.
Now working as a Junior Reserve Officer Corp Instructor, Evans, 43, retired after 22 years in the Army. He earned a Purple Heart for being wounded in action in Iraq. Then he earned the Bronze Star with Valor for aiding his commander while wounded. CSM Evans deployed four more times, earning the Combat Actions Badge and two Bronze Stars, among other medals.
Inside the gala, guests were treated to a wide array of auction items that featured unique experiences, gift baskets and exquisite works of art. They included an original Statue of Liberty painted by renowned Americana artist Steve Penley of Georgia, limited edition and vintage cigars from Rush Limbaugh and his producer, “Bo Snerdley,” a spectacular Royal Poinciana painting by Palm City artist Anaisa Chambers, and an American Rose stained glass window by Martin County artist Margie Murphy.
In all, the silent auction raised over $40,000 of the $708,000 total, solidifying VIM Clinic’s ability to meet its mandate of providing comprehensive quality health care to Martin County residents who have no access to health insurance and have household incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level.
As VIM supporter Sally Stetson put it, “Our little town is just so caring and giving. From the doctors who volunteer, to the patients we serve, there just couldn’t be anything better as a statement for Stuart, Florida.”