John Hoffmire: Serving the underserved — communities support free health clinic focusing on children, families
Screenshot from YouTube video in article.
Editor's note: This article was co-written with Catherine Amiot and R. Craig Wilson.
Mission of Mercy (M.O.M.) Mobile Medical Clinic recently opened its sixth clinic in the heart of south Phoenix — a community where children and families struggle to access even the most basic health care services.
This innovative clinic represents a new opportunity for M.O.M. and Phoenix Rotary 100 to deepen their combined impact by serving families out of the Rotary 100 Murphy School District Education & Health Center, a community hub located in the heart of one of the most underserved communities in south-central Phoenix. The education and health center was the result of an earlier $3.5 million project lead by the Phoenix 100 Rotary.
But for Phoenix Rotary 100, the Murphy School District health clinic represents something even greater; it serves as a testament to the power of collaboration and perseverance when people and communities come together to provide life-affirming resources to a community in need.
When Brendan Kennedy, then incoming-president of the Phoenix Rotary 100, attended a tour of M.O.M's central Phoenix clinic in January of 2012, it was clear to everyone that Kennedy had a true passion for M.O.M's promise of delivering health care without barriers. Shortly after the tour ended, Kennedy announced that his vision for creating a partnership between Rotary and M.O.M was really the opportunity for M.O.M to open a sixth clinic on the Education & Health Center campus, effectively positioning both organizations in the epicenter of poverty and need in Phoenix.
“When I first entered the clinic and watched the nurses, patients and doctors interacting and delivering good quality medicine I was more than intrigued. I saw an opportunity for Rotary to make a tremendous impact on some of the poorest children and families in our community through a partnership with Mission of Mercy,” says Kennedy.
Kennedy grew up on a rural farm in Iowa. His father died unexpectedly in a military plane crash, leaving behind a wife and 11 children — the youngest, a two-week old baby and the oldest barely 18. The family was poor, his mother overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running the family farm and providing for her children. But, the small town embraced Kennedy’s family and the important basics were always covered. Someone was always there to insure his family did not fall through the cracks.
“Fortunately, we always had access to food, education, health and dental care,” says Kennedy. “I am convinced that it was the community help that we were given that allowed each one of my 10 brothers and sisters to pursue our college and post-college education and become productive members of our respective communities.”
As Kennedy worked to unite Phoenix Rotary 100 leadership and Rotary International behind the project, the executive leadership team from M.O.M also went to work.
M.O.M executive staff enrolled other non-profit organizations to pool their funds to cover two year's worth of operating costs for the new clinic. Additional funding was secured to bring M.O.M.’s signature Community Connections program to the center. Community Connections is designed to connect Murphy's children and families to additional community resources in the areas of chronic disease management and education, on-site health literacy/exercise and nutrition classes and pre-qualification assistance for AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid) and KidsCare.
With the addition of M.O.M’s primary medical care services, the Murphy Education & Health Center has become a bustling center for collaborative service delivery. Children and families in the area now have access to no-cost dental care through the CASS/Murphy Kids Dental Clinic. Additional on-site childcare services and Head Start classes are provided by Chicanos Por La Causa, for children aged zero to three. Soon Esperanca, a global health organization headquartered in Phoenix, will be joining M.O.M. to provide physical activity and nutrition classes to youth and adults free of charge.
For Kennedy, it’s a dream come true. “This is a long-term project where Rotary is investing in the lives of young people and giving them the hope and opportunity to see another way of life — it’s a model of a community stepping forward and not giving up on our sisters and brothers!”
John Hoffmire teaches at SaÏd Business School at the University of Oxford.
Catherine Amiot is the executive director of Mission of Mercy in Phoenix.
R. Craig Wilson is a Director of Progress Through Business and Immediate Past District Governor for Rotary International for Northern Arizona.
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