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A Day of Service will help local groups

Gov.-elect Deal promoting event as his inaugural kickoff

POSTED: January 6, 2011 11:48 p.m.

People in pain need care. The hungry need to be fed. And area nonprofits providing those services in Gainesville welcome volunteers ready to boost humanitarian missions.

The reality of such complementary needs throughout Georgia will make up the basis of Saturday's A Day of Service, promoted by Gov.-elect Nathan Deal as an appropriate kickoff to his Monday inauguration.

Locally, Good News Clinics and Good News at Noon were selected to join the statewide appeal, which will include hundreds of volunteers taking part in more than 30 projects. The day's theme is "With a Servant's Heart."
"We were honored to participate," said Cheryl Christian, executive director of Good News Clinics. "We hope the people who need us the most know about this (day)."

Christian's organization accepted the invitation in early December to sponsor the special event, she said. It was time the group needed to coordinate money as well as the large number of volunteers who stepped forward.

About 150 men and women, including many of the clinic's core group of dentists and doctors, signed on to help. Private donations and a $1,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation are offsetting expenses.

"We've had 150 people say we want to participate on this day," Christian said.

She's hoping even more people arrive for medical treatment.

Opening Saturday is a rarity for the weekday clinic. How the medical care is delivered will reflect the occasion.
Rather than a lengthy screening process and waiting period that can last two weeks, patients who arrive to the Pine Street clinic between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be asked about their symptoms first. Then a doctor or dentist visit will follow.

If a person cannot be helped on site, referral services will be available, Christian said.

Hypertension, high blood pressure, flu, strep throat and diabetes are some ailments doctors and nurses are prepared to handle. Dentists are expecting cavities and tooth extractions, Christian said.

To advertise the event to those in need, Good News Clinics briefed readers in its newsletter, and sent fliers to local food pantries and children's centers where parents may spot the information. The United Way of Hall County and other nonprofit agencies were also told to spread the message. In case waiting rooms fill, First Baptist Church of Gainesville has donated use of three 15-seat buses.

"People will have a warm place to wait," Christian said.

Warmth will be in no small supply on Davis Street where Good News at Noon also will begin its workday at 9 a.m.

The Rev. Ed Grant, director of the center, said plans are in place for the 60 volunteers who signed up. But he expects dozens more will arrive ready to go to work just as they did Thanksgiving Day.

"We're expecting to be overwhelmed," Grant said.

One of the main projects lined up for those who arrive is cleaning, organizing and restocking the pantry.

Noon lunch, preceded by the devotional service, will take place as usual, Grant said. Volunteers will be treated to a pastry breakfast and lunch, which will be opened to visitors after the disadvantaged.

"We are excited for the exposure. Most people don't know what this ministry does," Grant said. "We're a community center. We meet a lot of different needs."



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