STEUBENVILLE - Eight years ago, Patricia Fletcher had an idea her colleagues at the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center board of trustees thought "was a little crazy."
"We had started the health center but only had $22,000 in funding. I had seen a gala event for a free health clinic in Little Rock, Ark., and brought the idea back to our community. It has been amazing to watch the growth of the health center and the gala. The gala was set up to raise the funds needed to operate the center. But the gala is also a great social event where everyone has a great time," cited Patricia Fletcher, a veteran member of the center's board of trustees.
"We all thought Patricia was crazy with the idea of holding a gala but it has worked out great," noted gala committee member Janet Sharpe.
FINAL PREPARATIONS — Members of the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center 2014 Gala Committee display the auction items that will be sold during the annual event set for Sunday at the St. Florian Hall in Wintersville. Tickets for the gala are available by calling (740) 283-2856. Members of the Gala committee include, seated, from left, Janet Sharpe, Suzanne Brown and Patricia Fletcher; and standing, Anita Jackson, Elizabeth Ferron, Sandy Grimm, Karen Fonow, Leroy Sharpe, Donna Minor, Jeannie D’Anniballe, Chris Hyland, Babette Mavromatis, Eileen Petrola, Jackie Quillen and Ann Quillen. -- Dave Gossett
"We have many of the same people attending the gala each year. But we also see new people each year. And everyone who attends the gala, sponsors the gala or donates an item for the auction wants to do what they can to help others," Fletcher added.
Eight years later the annual gala is set for Sunday at St. Florian Hall in Wintersville, as organizers hope to raise $140,000 for the health center that serves the uninsured residents of Jefferson County.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Fourth Street Health Center at (740) 283-2856.
The doors will open at 5 p.m., and the gala dinner starts at 6 p.m.
This year's gala will feature 600 mystery boxes for sale for $10 each.
"The mystery boxes include gift cards, jewelry, gas cards, candy, items from Amish country, kitchen novelty items, hair care gifts, two dental exams and teeth cleaning, make-up and light up lipstick. The mystery boxes value range from $10 to $150 and they sell fast," said Sharpe.
Auction coordinator Elizabeth Ferron said Dale Featheringham will serve as the auctioneer this year.
"We have several very nice items, including patio furniture from M&M True Value Hardware, Jamboree in the Hills tickets and a stay at the Valley View campsite by EM Media and Tom Gentile, three Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens game tickets from Thomas Graham, a dental basket with whitening offered by Dr. and Mrs. Tom Brown and a framed Dave Barnhouse painting from Dave Barnhouse and Nelson Framing," listed Ferron.
"Additional auction items for the gala are a stay at a three-bedroom beach house at Cocoa Beach, Fla., by Todd Piergallini, a weekend at Rocky Fork Resort from Travel Resorts of America, a one-night stay at Tappan Lake with a three-hour pontoon boat ride and dinner, two Lexus Club tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game offered by the Herald-Star, a $1,000 advertising package from WTOV-TV, an Especially for Her women's gift package and a $300 driver and a round of golf for four people at the Spring Hills golf club," added Ferron.
Dr. Tom and Suzanne Brown agreed to co-chair this year's campaign.
"We were honored to be asked to co-chair this event because we believe in the health center and we know the need for the free clinic is growing in Jefferson County. We have been volunteering at the health center for the past several years and this is the next step to help out," explained Suzanne Brown.
"Last year the gala raised $120,000, so this year we have set the goal for $140,000. And I know we can meet that goal," she added.
One reason for the need for increased funding this year is the start up of the free dental clinic.
"Dr. Brown walked out at the end of the minority health screening and told me nearly 90 percent of the patients he saw that evening had oral health issues. He looked at me and said, 'we have to do something about this,'" recalled Ann Quillen, executive director of the health center.
That conversation lead to serious discussion in 2010 about creating a free dental clinic.
"In 2012 we received a very generous donation from a dental clinic in Meigs County that was closing. They offered us a full complement of dental and radiology equipment as well as office furniture. We made arrangements to bring everything to Steubenville and place it in storage so we can go through it all and determine what we can use in the new dental clinic. This is a major contribution that has allowed us to be ready to go once the building is completely renovated," said Brown.
"Dr. Brown and Dr. Joe Clause have already been seeing patients referred by the health center who are in desperate need of care. If a patient comes in with an oral related issue such as an abscessed tooth we will treat the infection and then send the patient to one of our participating dentists," said Quillen.
She noted the gala has been changed this year to allow for more social interaction as well as some surprises.
"Jody Glaub is our master of ceremonies at the gala and he has a couple of things planned that will be very entertaining," remarked Quillen.
"The gala will be a semi-formal, black-tie-optional, affair that will include dinner, more than $10,000 in donated prizes for a live auction and mystery boxes, and recognition of area honorees. We have added a champagne hour with passed hors d'oeuvres prior to dinner to allow for more networking opportunities. And Sonny Sunseri and his jazz group will be providing entertainment at the gala. This is going to be an exciting and rewarding evening," Suzanne Brown said.
"This is such a wonderful cause and this is also a great way to support the Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center and have a fun evening," said Suzanne Brown.
"We also want to give people the opportunity to make a donation to the Fourth Street Health Center. Someone may not have the chance to attend the gala but would still like to make a monetary donation. Those donations can be sent to the center at 701 N. Fourth St., and all amounts will be welcomed," said Quillen.
"There are still a large number of Jefferson County residents who are uninsured and need our help. The health center provides medical help to those who have no health insurance. The gala is a major fundraiser for our operations," remarked Quillen.
"I think people give to the Health Center because they want to make things better for others. We see a lot of people support the gala in many ways. And it is so easy to support the gala and the health center because we all know someone who for some reason is uninsured. We are growing in leaps and bounds but financial help is needed so we can continue to serve those in need," noted Quillen.
"It is very simple. We need more money to support more services for more people. We have to raise more money to help the uninsured residents of Jefferson County. This is an excellent way to help our neighbors who may be in need," said Fletcher.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com)