A sign outside the Alachua County Organization for Rural Needs Clinic in Brooker. The clinic, which treats mainly uninsured or low-income patients, is $50,000 closer to its capital-campaign goal of $500,000 thanks to three recent donations. (Baylor Cherry/WUFT News)

3 Grants Bring Low-Income Clinic Closer To $500K Goal


With the help of two national organizations and one Florida one, the Alachua County Organization for Rural Needs Clinic is $50,000 closer to reaching its capital-campaign goal of $500,000.

The Disabled American Veterans Charitable Services Trust provided $30,000, the Harry Kramer Memorial Fund donated $10,000, and Keystone Heights-based Clay Electric Cooperative also gave $10,000.

Known as the ACORN Clinic, the organization in Brooker serves about 5,000 patients a year. Patients come from 24 counties in North Central Florida, with a majority residing in Alachua, Bradford and Union counties.

As a not-for-profit organization, ACORN primarily targets uninsured or low-income patients. To help reduce the cost of medical and dental services for them, the clinic continually searches for new funds.

“I tell people, ‘The good news is that ACORN has a lot of funding sources; the bad news is that ACORN has a lot of funding sources,’” said Candice King, ACORN’s executive director.

The organization’s capital campaign is aimed at replacing outdated equipment in its medical and dental clinic as well as allocating money toward the expansion of the dental clinic to accommodate the high demand.

Although the dental clinic was built in 2001 from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development funds, some of the equipment was already used.

“We moved the dental chairs from where they were in the medical building over,” King said. “Some of our chairs are over 20 years old.”

The Disabled American Veterans Charitable Services Trust grant will help provide veterans with dental services, including cleanings, yearly exams, and complete or partial dentures.

“Given the clinic’s history in serving veterans that are at-risk and in need of oral health care, the trust was proud to collaborate in increasing service to the region’s heroes,” Jennie Stricker, the trust’s grant specialist, wrote in an email.

According to King, a veteran has to be 100 percent disabled to receive separate dental services from the Veterans Health Administration hospital. But the trust’s $30,000 grant will allow disabled veterans who aren’t fully disabled to receive almost completely free dental care.

The Harry Kramer $10,000 donation will go towards subsidizing dental care for low-income senior patients, according to a news release.

Clay Electric’s $10,000 grant is part of its new program Operation Roundup, named as such because it rounds participating members’ bills up to the next whole dollar and places that extra money into a pool for the Clay Electric Foundation.

Clay Electric takes grant applications and then determines which ones get funded, said Kathy Richardson, a Clay spokeswoman.

ACORN meets “the criteria of what we we’re looking for to help the communities that we serve so that the members’ money goes directly to help members,” she said. “So essentially, it’s members helping members.”

The maximum amount an organization can request in a Clay Electric Foundation grant is $15,000. The money Clay donates must go toward an organization operating in one of the counties the utility serves, must directly help people, and must be tied to a specific project.

“This was a good use for that money because [the clinic] already get donations of materials and other things,” Richardson said, “so this money could go to help directly improve the conditions of the building.”

Even with the three donations, King said she still expects the full $500,000 campaign which launched in 2015 to take several more years.

It’s broken up into two phases.

The first phase, which has a $300,000 target, is dedicated to repairing and renovating ACORN’s current facilities. The remaining $200,000 targets expanding the dental clinic.

“When we reach our goal for the first phase,” King said, “we will be reevaluating whether or not we can get to the goal for the second phase.”

About Baylor Cherry

Baylor Cherry is a reporter for WUFT News and can be reached at 727-916-0142.

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