An early birthday treat just arrived for St. Thomas Aquinas Free Medical Clinic. The clinic has been selected as a BB&T Lighthouse Project. The project provides funds to local charities that benefit the community and also honors employees and volunteers who make it all happen. The clinic staff used the $3,000 grant to beautify the building inside and out and to restock much-needed supplies.

Alicia Hermosa is a market leader for BB&T Bank and drives by the clinic every day on her way to work. She is the employee who nominated the clinic for consideration as a Lighthouse Project. “I lived in St. Cloud and drove by different times of day and would see people waiting outside. I took a tour and was moved. I really didn’t realize that it was all volunteers inside, helping people at no charge,” she said. So she jumped at the chance to nominate the clinic so her coworkers and clients could also learn more about the good work.

Over two weekends, numerous volunteers laid fresh mulch, planted flowers, potted plants, added decorations to the front porch and made new signs for the door and parking lot. Teams inside painted walls, doors, and trim. They hung new curtains and added new furniture and fan to the waiting room to make it more welcoming. There is also a new private and cozy discharge room for patients.

Kelly Bender, clinic coordinator for Catholic Charities of Central Florida – the agency managing the program – said, “What is so great is it is our 10 year anniversary and this breathed life back into our building. Also, many volunteers may think they are coming to paint a wall or plant a flower; however they are giving pride and excitement to the patients who come to our clinic. No patient, with or without insurance, should feel like they are getting second rate offices or treatment.”

St. Thomas Aquinas Free Medical Clinic was established in October of 2008 and works in partnership with St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church to provide the uninsured in Osceola County and neighboring areas with services. The clinic offers medical treatment, medication and medical specialist referrals, and preventative health education programs. What makes the clinic unique is that it opens one additional night per month for specialty care including: orthopedic, urology, podiatry, pediatric, echocardiograms and ultrasounds. The clinic is operated by part-time staff and a dedicated team of volunteers, including physicians, a licensed practical nurse, registered nurses, administrative specialists and long-time volunteer medical director Dr. Peter Morrow.

BB&T has completed 4,400 community projects in 25 states with more than 200,000 volunteer hours through 2017—including the recent refurbishment of three reception areas at Catholic Charities of Central Florida in Orlando this month. The new signage, lighting, and furniture provide a bright and welcoming atmosphere for those who are already dealing with crisis.

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – June 6, 2018