0323goodnewsaudCheryl Christian describes how the recession is affecting Good News Clinics.
Diminished by the recession, nonprofit foundations aren’t able to donate to charitable causes as much as they used to.
That’s a problem for Good News Clinics in Gainesville. The medical and dental clinics, which provide free care to the poor in Hall County, do not accept government money and rely entirely on contributions.
"We’ve lost $200,000 from three sources (foundations) this year," said Good News executive director Cheryl Christian. "We anticipate that individual donations will also be down."
At the same time, Good News is experiencing an influx of new clients as people lose their jobs and health insurance.
"New patients have increased by 68 percent, and overall patient visits by 22 percent," said Christian. "We’re seeing people who’ve never had to ask (for help) before."
The budget crunch, coupled with higher demand, is forcing Good News to get more creative about fundraising. So Christian was intrigued when Dr. Thomas Field, a Dahlonega orthodontist and longtime supporter of the clinic, approached her with an idea.
Field wants to raise about $75,000 for the Green Warren Dental Clinic at Good News. To do this, he’ll need the cooperation of about 30 local dentists.
Each dentist, Field proposes, will offer free, professional teeth whitening to at least 10 patients. Instead of paying the dentist, each patient will make a tax-deductible contribution of $250 to Good News.
"I had seen a similar fundraiser for a foundation in Gwinnett County, and it seemed to work pretty well," said Field. "I don’t think it will be difficult to get dentists to participate. So far, hardly anybody I’ve asked has said no."
Christian said there are already 42 dentists who volunteer at Good News, and she expects many of them will want to be involved in this project. The promotion will start April 1 and run through the end of May.
Field said if your regular dentist isn’t participating, you can have the whitening done by any dentist who has signed up for the program.
Christian acknowledged that the $250 fee for the procedure is more than people would pay if they bought over-the-counter teeth-whitening products at a store.
"But we think some people may choose to do this because it goes to a good cause," she said. "We’re hoping to get people who had been thinking about maybe getting their teeth whitened anyway, and they figure now would be a good time to do it and help us out."
Christian said all the money from this effort will go toward the dental clinic. "We’re trying to come up with a different fundraiser for the medical clinic," she said.
Though Good News is staffed mostly by volunteer doctors, nurses and dentists, and many items such as medications are donated, the clinics still need funds to pay for services such as lab work and for the salaries of the support staff.
Field said he’s confident the community will want to help, because Good News has been around for a long time and people understand how important it is.
"Good News is a unique place, and Gainesville is fortunate to have it," he said.