MERCI Clinic needs your help

as seen in the August 19th edition of The Sun Journal:

buildingThere are all sorts of things that define a community that you live in. In New Bern, we have many. We live in a place of great beauty, surrounded by more of nature’s bounty that you can take in; crape myrtles of every color and size, lovely gardens everywhere and not one but two magnificent rivers. In New Bern, we don’t tear down our beautiful old houses. They are painstakingly restored so that others can enjoy their beauty. Our bridges might be complicated to understand but they are astoundingly beautiful and connect us all to each other. New Bern is a town proud of its history, yet mindful that it must keep up with current times. It is a town that holds a great fascination to tourists, while at the same time maintaining its’ residents devotion.

But what you have to love most about New Bern are the people who live here.

New Bernians (I am hopeful that I did not just make up a name) are proud, caring, kind and generous people who have, throughout the years, supported many others in need. Some of them came here to retire and are working harder than they ever did before. They have faith big enough to support churches of many denominations and a Synagogue and have hearts big enough to think of others less fortunate. They have helped to welcome strangers through Interfaith Hospitality, fed and sheltered thousands of the hungry through RCS and tended to the medical needs of the working poor through MERCI Hospital. This says an awful lot about the people who live here. Places like these are not just the heart of a community, they are the soul of a community. When they fail, for any reason, we all fail.

MERCI Clinic needs our help.

For the first time in the Clinic’s 20 year history, they have had to stop accepting new patients because of a lack of money. They have also had to cut their clinic days down to two a week.

This is a free medical clinic for New Bern’s “working poor” who are without the income resources or medical insurance to pay for a doctor. These are not people who don’t work, or haven’t worked. They are people who have ongoing illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure and COPD who have incomes 200 percent below the poverty level. They make too much money to get Medicaid and too little to pay for private health care. Very often, they have to choose between food for their children and medicine for themselves. They have fallen “between the cracks”. They need MERCI to be there for them and we cannot let this wonderful and vital institution close.

MERCI Clinic needs our help and there are several ways that we can give it to them:

You can go online to www.merciclinic.org, find the get involved tab and make an online donation. While there you could also check out their wish list. I would ask the doctors and businesses in this town to please pay attention to this list. There are many ways of helping and donating; copy paper, telephone message pads, a three pronged cane, or a stethoscope (we have an awful lot of MDs in this community) would help more than you know.

They would be delighted to get a check from you, for any amount that you would like to give. Checks can be made out to MERCI Clinic and sent to:

MERCI Free Clinic, 1315 Tatum Drive, New Bern, NC 28560 | 252-633-1599

MERCI is also having a raffle for a chance to win $20,000! Tickets are $100 each and are being sold online, at the clinic, or through board members. If you would like additional information, you can call me at 252-288-5318. Buying a ticket would be a great gift or might help to pay for that roof that needs to be replaced! There are only 500 tickets available so your chances of winning are better than the lottery any day. Please remember that for every $1 you donate, MERCI can provide $8.80 in patient services.

In every community there seems to be an organization that breaks your heart; that reminds you every day of how lucky you are to have what you have, to live where you live, to be surrounded by all that you are. MERCI Clinic is that place for my husband and me and I know that it is for Dr. Ralph Redding and his wife Beverlee, the co-founders of MERCI, the hundreds of volunteers that have worked there over the past 20 years, for the staff whose every waking hour is dedicated to MERCI Clinic and for the patients who count on MERCI’s doors to be open for them.

One of MERCI’s credos is, “We believe that by helping those in need, our community becomes stronger”. So let’s show them who we are. We are the people of New Bern and we support people who through no fault of their own have fallen through the cracks, people just like us who remind us all that “there but for the grace of God go I.”

In the meantime, we do not forget the people who have given their time and money for years to MERCI. We honor you and thank you for everything that you have done including helping us out now. Thank you.

Debbie Welch, development coordinator, MERCI Clinic