Pay it forward

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Last Friday night I went to one of those fundraisers we all attend to support a cause we believe in. This one is a free clinic that happens to be in the basement of my church.

Agape Medical Clinic has been at Grace United Methodist since 1983 when a young doctor named Barbara Stark Baxter, MD, asked about physician volunteer opportunities in Dallas. She was connected with the church, which served an inner city community, and they offered her a closet in the basement until they could raise funds for something better. She began seeing patients that Saturday.

What were mostly back to school vaccines and coughs seen in a closet, grew into true medical care given in a five exam-room clinic in the basement that is now open 4 and a half days a week and has a regular case load and is operated by volunteer doctors and nurses.

Today, the line of those waiting to be seen begins well before daylight on Saturdays and because of Medicaid cuts in Texas, the clinic has never been more needed. This year Agape will expand into an additional 1,000 square feet of space in the basement which will allow them more exam rooms and the ability to see an estimated 7,500 patients – all free of charge.

But this blog is not about politics or churches reaching into the community, it’s about something Dr. Baxter said at the event on Friday night that made it all happen. Somoething simple that has change people’s lives.

When she was addressing the crowd of supporters, she told the story of her medical school professor who worked in a free clinic and how working with him and seeing his passion had stayed with her throughout her residency to the day when she was able to volunteer her skills in the community.

By seeing what he was doing, she was changed.

The message here is simple. Get people involved in what you are doing to make the world a better place. The Agape Medical Clinic now offers mammograms for women who can’t afford them, and part of this year’s expansion will be a well woman clinic that will provide the kind of screening women in underserved communities don’t get.

Find a way to volunteer at a program that makes someone’s life easier. Pay it forward.

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