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Support stays strong for homegrown institution

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THIS marks the 18th year of operations for the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. It also marks the 18th year of the reverse raffle, the fundraiser that provides approximately one-fourth of the clinic’s yearly operating budget.

Sustaining the nonprofit initiative and the vehicle that provides a major share of its revenues over such a period is a formidable task, particularly the reverse raffle and dinner that will be renewed Friday night at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center.

Surprisingly, the benefit has withstood the apathy that can set in after so many repetitions and has increased the amount of money provided to the clinic. The first event in 1996 raised approximately $25,000. Last year’s raffle and dinner raised more than $164,000. There were more than 100 sponsors and 450 people who attended the dinner.

Even taking into account inflation, that is a tremendous show of continuing support to an organization that last year provided service to more than 800 low-income residents of Bartholomew County who were either underinsured or could not afford insurance.

Based on those numbers alone, the need for such support is obvious, but the depth of that support should be traced to the history of the organization and the fact that it is essentially a homegrown effort that continues to rely on support from within the community.

Bartholomew County’s medical community was principally responsible for the creation of the clinic — doctors, nurses and other caregivers banding together to answer specific needs of an underserved portion of the community. Today that spirit of volunteerism is alive and well thanks to scores of those practitioners who have continued to donate their time to the clinic.

Their efforts have been augmented by the community at large, not just through the reverse raffle event but also in solicited and unsolicited donations.

The community still has an opportunity to help sustain the momentum that has been building since 1996. Tickets for the dinner will be sold in advance until 5 p.m. Thursday. Raffle tickets can be purchased until noon Friday. Those attending the dinner will have the opportunity to purchase additional tickets at the convention center.

It’s a worthy and needed cause, one in which the entire community has had a role.

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