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Volunteers have donated a total of 90,000 hours to VIM Clinic. From January through November of 2011 alone, 99 volunteers contributed more than $463,000 worth of their time and talent.

To honor their contribution, a volunteer appreciation party was held Nov. 22 at The Yacht and Country Club in Stuart. About 70 guests attended the event sponsored by Gail and Lois Warden.

“We don’t exist as a clinic without all the great people who volunteer so much,” said Dr. Howard Voss, who became volunteer Medical Director in 2002, along with founder Dr. Fred Carter. Dr. Carter died in 2006.

In fact, if you add up all the hours Dr. Voss has worked at VIM Clinic, his contribution is worth well in excess of $1.5 million, said Ivins Steinhauer, president of The Friends of Volunteers in Medicine Clinic board of directors.

“We keep telling him we’re going to have to double his wages,” Steinhauer joked. “We really have to be thankful to the wonderful physicians and all the other people who have been so generous to us,” he noted.

Steinhauer thanked Dr. Bill Tozzo and his wife June, who funded VIM Clinic’s mortgage until it was retired this year, and have now established a building fund to help meet future expansion needs.

“Without that support, we would not be able to do what we are presently doing, and I have to admit, the need has never been greater than now,” Steinhauer said. “And from what we all hear in the news, I don’t think that’s about to change.”

Steinhauer and Dr. Voss both acknowledged the value of partnerships with Martin Health System and community physicians in meeting the growing need for health care among Martin County residents.

“Our patient population has changed,” Dr. Voss noted. “We have patients now who never dreamed that they would need to have medical care given to them. These are people who had jobs, put their kids through school and paid their mortgages. And that’s been a failure. But in Martin County, we can still provide them with health care.”

Mark Robitaille, president and CEO of Martin Health System, worked with the late Dr. Carter in getting VIM Clinic established in 1995. He’s the honorary chair of VIM’s upcoming Gala fundraiser at Mariner Sands Country Club on Jan. 28.

“It’s really been one of the highlights of my career to have been involved with this wonderful organization from the start,” Robitaille told the gathering.

Noting that VIM Clinic is “clearly serving a need,” he commended the devotion and dedication of all the volunteers in meeting the health care needs of less fortunate Martin County residents.

“We’re just honored at Martin Memorial to be part of this, and to be able to serve the community through the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic.”