New Hope Clinic & Brunswick Family Assistance Team Up
New Hope Clinic and Brunswick Family Assistance team up to provide more efficient service for those in need.
They serve many of the same people. They have a similar vision and the same values. And their donor base is largely the same. So it was no surprise to hear that New Hope Clinic and Brunswick Family Assistance have partnered to provide more efficient support and care for Brunswick County’s less fortunate residents.
Last March Fred Stephens, executive director of Brunswick Family Assistance, and Sheila Roberts, executive director of New Hope Clinic, announced their partnership and plans for the future in a presentation to the St. James Service Club.
Stephens gave his talk first. He outlined the situation in Brunswick County and the critical necessity to help those in need. When it was Roberts’ turn, she took the opportunity to emphasize that New Hope Clinic (NHC) and Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA) are a team and have the same goals by saying, “Fred just gave my talk, so I’ll sit down now and see you all next year.” After the audience stopped laughing, she gave her talk as planned and outlined the medical diagnoses and treatments that New Hope Clinic provides for their clients.
The two organizations’ first joint initiative was to set up a satellite office in each other’s primary facility. BFA’s main facility is in Shallotte, and New Hope Clinic is located in Boiling Spring Lakes. BFA recently subleased two offices to NHC so their services can be more accessible to those patients who live in the southwestern part of the county. Currently that office is open one day a week, with the intent of increasing the office hours as required. BFA uses space in the NHC facility one day a week to serve clients from Boiling Spring Lakes, Southport and Oak Island. BFA is also planning to open a satellite facility in Southport in the Administration Building of Trinity United Methodist Church.
Staffs of both organizations are receiving training to equip them to answer questions about each one. Plans currently on the drawing board for future collaboration include developing a common database of clients, the relevant portions of which could be accessed by each organization without compromising the clients’ privacy, and establishing additional joint locations, e.g., in Leland.
Both Stephens and Roberts cited impressive statistics for the work of their respective organizations.
Last year BFA provided food from its food pantry for more than 16,000 individuals. In addition, four times a year it holds a commodities distribution day in which it distributes excess food provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last year these distribution days provided 91,000 pounds of food to 3,484 households, which helped 7,760 individuals.
BFA provided utility assistance for more than 2,000 households and rental and emergency shelter assistance for 165 households. It also distributed vouchers for clothing, prescription drugs and transportation expenses. It ran a Christmas Distribution Program and provided school book bags, supplies and clothing for the children in families that qualified for assistance. In order to qualify for all BFA services, participants must provide documentation to show that their total income is at or below 130% of the federal poverty line. Stephens estimated that BFA touches the lives of more than 17% of Brunswick County residents, and the monetary value of the goods and services provided last year totaled $955,000.
New Hope Clinic is located in a 4,000-square-foot facility in Boiling Spring Lakes. It provides a full range of healthcare services, including primary and specialty medical care, dental care, chiropractic services, endocrinology, EKGs, urology, diagnostic services and patient education all at no charge to the patient. It also has a pharmacy onsite as well as a Pharmacy Assistance Program. It hosts diabetes education classes and a weight management support group. Last year it served 942 low-income, uninsured residents of Brunswick County. This amounted to 5,281 visits. In addition, it filled 12,900 prescriptions for medications.
In order to qualify for services, NHC patients must present proof that their income is at or below 150% of the federal poverty line. The total monetary value of all services rendered in 2015 was estimated to be more than $3.4 million on an operating budget of $350,000. This was accomplished with the equivalent of four full-time employees, along with 162 doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, administrative assistants, admitting clerks, IT personnel and others who posted more than 10,000 volunteer hours.
At the end of 2015, NHC asked its patients to participate in a survey. NHC got high marks in every category for services received and for the facility. Some of the remarks included the following: “Whenever I come the entire staff is fantastic, very friendly and kind”; “They get to the root of your problem and then they help you anyway they can to get you properly seen by the right people”; “Helped with healthcare when no one else would. The staff is friendly and easy to talk to.”
Both organizations rely primarily on fundraisers, donations from organizations and individuals, and grants for funding. BFA operates a well-stocked Family Thrift Store at its headquarters in Shallotte, which is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. It is a one-stop-shopping place for everything from clothes, shoes and purses to housewares, books and music, jewelry, paintings, gift items, rugs and furniture. In addition to finding great bargains, a shopper might also uncover a true treasure, as one woman recently did. This person discovered a sugar bowl that matched the set she had inherited from her grandmother with all the pieces intact except for the broken sugar bowl. Under the leadership of Thrift Store Team Leader Marie Garvin the store is self-funding and contributes a net of $2,000 a month to BFA for its programs.
BFA holds a golf tournament in the fall and is the recipient of the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla event. NHC also holds its annual Art Auction in January. Both organizations receive the proceeds from several sponsored events, most notably, frequent concerts by Mike’s Garage Band. And both organizations are the recipients of donations from local civic and faith-based organizations, churches, businesses and foundations as well as private donors.
Roberts was appointed executive director of New Hope Clinic in August of 2009. Under her guidance, the clinic moved into its current facility in Boiling Spring Lakes, more than doubled the number of patients it serves, and extended its hours of operation from one day a week to five days.
Four years ago Stephens agreed to be the interim director of Brunswick Family Assistance until the vacancy could be filled. And somewhere along the line, the board of directors must have talked him into staying on as executive director, a decision he has never regretted. Like NHC, BFA has greatly expanded its services and doubled its net worth under Stephens’ guidance. And now he has decided to retire (again). June 30 was his last day office. He will be very much missed by his staff, the BFA volunteers, the residents he has served and the many people who have become regulars at the Thrift Shop.
Stephens’ successor will be announced shortly. As of July 1, Stephens will be back on the golf course, at the beach with his visiting grandchildren or traveling with his wife. In short, he plans to relax and enjoy a well-deserved retirement, and this time, a permanent one.
If you would like to know more about either of these organizations or want to volunteer your services, you can visit their websites: New Hope Clinic at newhopeclinicfree.org and Brunswick Family Assistance at brunswickfamily.org