I have had many roles at the Clinic including patient, volunteer, and now I am on staff. The Clinic is a very important part of my life: the Clinic saved my life! I came to the US in 1999 with my husband. He was a telecommunications engineer, but in the poor economy his hours were decreased substantially. I was babysitting as well, making a low weekly salary, but we were still unable to afford health insurance for me. We kept insurance for my kids and my husband, but we decided to drop the insurance for me, because I had always been very healthy. Only 3 months later, while I was accompanying a friend who was an AFC patient to the Clinic, staff asked me if I had insurance. I was healthy, but they insisted I enroll because even though I was well, I needed an annual check-up. My first experience with the Clinic was taking a breast self-exam class. I discovered a lump and the Clinic responded immediately: it was cancer. I was 39 years old at the time.
My first thoughts were: no health insurance, no money in my bank account, and three little kids between 4- and 10-years-old. I was in shock. I just felt guilty for the entire situation, and I had no way of looking up. But from that first moment on, AFC coordinated all of my care: from my initial biopsy, to all of my appointments with oncologists & specialists, all of the medications I needed, surgery, chemo & radiation, and even for reconstruction. In addition to all of the professional services the Clinic provided, above all the Clinic gave me hope. Every time a test came back, the nurses managing my care gave me reasons for hope – I never felt that I was alone. The Clinic supported and encouraged my husband as well, because when you are sick it not only affects you, but those you love.
Today, I am cancer-free and grateful; the dictionary’s definition of “thank you” is far too small for what I feel. The Clinic gave me the opportunity to see my kids grow up into teenagers – one of my kids is in college today, and the younger ones will follow close behind! My kids saw everything that the Clinic did for their mom while she was sick, and watching this taught them about the way they should treat people: be open to helping others because you never know when you’ll need help during a period in your life, like I did.
As a way of giving back to the Clinic, I offered to volunteer. I volunteered for many years teaching the breast self-exam class in English and Spanish. I also counseled newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in an effort to help them through this difficult process. Now, I’m working and I have my own health insurance. Thank you Arlington Free Clinic: without you, I wouldn’t be able to tell this story.
My wife and I earmark a significant portion of our support each year for organizations that address needs in our local community and we are quite selective in identifying organizations that we can be sure devote a large portion of what they receive directly to program services. We are extremely impressed with the Clinic in this respect. Clinic directors are always more than happy to show us how our support is put to use. The commitment of the staff and volunteers to providing health services to those in need of those services is evident. For many of us, it is easy to take access to basic health care for granted and, thus, much of what the Clinic does can fall under the radar. It should not, because -- directly or indirectly -- all of us in the community benefit from the excellent services that the Clinic provides.
Both my mother, Aicha and I are patients at the Clinic. My mother had a heart problem that needed surgery, and the Clinic coordinated with the hospital to help her get the proceedure. I want to thank the doctors at the Clinic and the hospital for all of their help. I am thankful that the Clinic is here in my neighborhood for the people that need it.
I've been a volunteer nurse at the Arlington Free Clinic since 1995. It's been one of the best experiences I've ever had. It's almost counter-intuitive -- who would think that an organization that relies so heavily on volunteers would be able to meet the healthcare needs of so many individuals in such a high quality manner? Yet that's exactly what happens. The backbone paid staff provide the support needed to provide high-quality medical care, and the volunteers provide the bulk of services. It works exceptionally well. Everyone -- volunteers, paid staff, patients and their families -- treat one another with genuine respect. It's community-based collaboration, and it never ceases to inspire me. I'm so proud to have been able to be a part of the organization for so many years.
I am a physician and have been a volunteer at the Arlington Free Clinic for several years now. It has been a truly great pleasure and privilege to become a part of this incredible group of dedicated volunteers, dedicated to the delivery of comprehensive and compassionate medical care to our clients. It is simply a labor of love to join these many professional and non-professional volunteers in our shared commitment to our patients. The program is so highly regarded in our community that I see our local hospitals and social agencies and community physicians generously participating in the delivery of health care to our AFC patients. And it is striking to realize each day as I depart the clinic after my volunteer activities, that I feel richer and nurtured by sharing this experience with the other members of the AFC staff and community.
I volunteered to serve on the Arlington Free Clinic's (AFC) Finance Committee with the intend of working with the Clinic for a year or two. Now, ten years later, I am a member of its Board of Directors and remain on its Finance Committee. I have continued my association with AFC because it is a superbly managed nonprofit that provides top quality medical care to low-income, uninsured Arlington County adults. What makes the Clinic so special is that it multiples its contributions and grants by approximately a factor of five through a large cadre of over 500 medical professionals and business community volunteers who are effectively utilized and always appreciated. It has a small dedicated full-time staff that does an outstanding job of managing the Clinic's resources (people, finances, facilities and supplies). There exists an exceptional spirit of team work that I have not experienced at this level in private industry, government service or with other charitable organizations. Commitment, dedication and recognition of the importance of the services it provides motivates the team and greatly benefits the Clinic's approximately 1,700 patients. It is richly deserving of being a top-rated non-profit, and has received outstanding achievement awards and competitive grants yearly. AFC is awarded top marks by Charity Navigator.
The Arlington Free Clinic is a superb organization, providing excellent care to uninsured low income patients with lots of health problems. Without exception, everyone a patient encounters is caring and competent. I make return appointments and referrals for testing or for appointments with other doctors. The staff is always willing to try to make sure all patients get what they need--even when physicians' schedules are full or other assistance must be found to provide expensive tests. There is no waste in the budget. For example, instead of purchased note pads, staff and volunteers use cut-up scrap paper for writing internal notes. I am confident every dollar I donate is used well.
I have been a physician volunteer for the Arlington Free Clinic for 17 years. Working at the clinic, I have met the extraordinary people. First of all, the staff is first rate and the clinic runs better than many doctors' offices. It is a warm palce to work, where you get the support you need. The patient population is tremendously diversed, and in these times of need you meet people of all ethnic backgrounds and intellectual abilities. From musicians, cleaning crew, painters, a pilot, I have seen it all. It is wonderfully rewarding to be involved with this organization.
As a Board Member of the Arlington Free Clinic, I have been constantly impressed with the commitment of the staff in providing quality care to their patients. As a hospital employee that makes referrals to the Clinic, I can attest to their responsiveness and their follow-up with the many patients we send to them. Many of these patients have complex medical problems and they receive care comparable to the care they'd receive with the best medical practitioners in the area. Many community physicians volunteer at the Clinic. The nursing staff are superior and the many volunteers make the Clinic feel "homey" and comfortable for patients. I am very proud to be a part of this fine organization.
I am privileged to be both a volunteer and donor at The Arlington Free Clinic. Despite a busy schedule, I have volunteered for over ten years because the clinic is an exceptional service provider possessing the highest level of medical expertise, service orientation, business efficiency and staff and volunteers that are unsurpassed in their commitment to patients. The staff and volunteers are creative and dedicated to ongoing improvement of the clinic's services and that is reflected in its ability to win competitive grants from funding organizations and community partners. AFC is truly a dynamic organization with a strategic vision and short and long term plans to achieve lofty goals Volunteering at the clinic is one of the most rewarding things I am privileged to do and I know firsthand that other volunteers share that sentiment!