Every second Friday of the month, St. Petersburg Free Clinic hosts an Impact Tour, a monthly experience that offers a firsthand look at the Free Clinic’s six locations and eight programs that provide food, shelter and health care. I recently got a chance to join a tour and learn all about the impact in action.

Food

Our Impact Tour group started at the Free Clinic’s We Help Services, which provides low-income clients with emergency food and financial assistance, personal hygiene items, bus passes, and assistance with obtaining IDs. The best part? These services reach more than 10,500 clients each month, but We Help Services is always looking for hygiene products like toilet paper and deodorant.

We also stopped at the Jared S. Hechtkopf Community Food Bank – the largest emergency food distributor in Pinellas County, which has grown exponentially over the past few years thanks to the Free Clinic’s donors. Last year alone, the Free Clinic Food Bank distributed more than 11 million pounds of food into our community.

Shelter

We also visited the Free Clinic’s three residential programs that house men, women and families alike. The Family Residence gives homeless families safe, stable housing while they work towards independence. From the clean kitchen where one mom was sizzling bacon as part of her breakfast to the playscape outside for children, the Family Residence gave a true sense of “home.” And, the family residence is always looking for smaller TVs, so if you’re getting rid of a working TV that’s smaller in size, you can donate it to the Family Residence.

Like the Family Residence, the Men’s and Baldwin Women’s residences are safe transitional shelters for single homeless men and women recovering from substance abuse. Residents work with Free Clinic staff to set goals and save money to reach independent living. It was meaningful to see the bonds they’ve made with each other in such a supportive setting. And, I discovered that I can bring my donated clothing to the Women’s Residence, where they have a clothing boutique for the women.

Health Care

At the Free Clinic’s Health Center, we learned about the health and dental services that reach uninsured adults ages 18-64. The Health Center offers everything from basic wellness services and prescription drug assistance to physical therapy and specialized care for managing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Earlier this year, the Health Center also added a Health Education Center, where patients can take free healthy eating classes in a modern teaching kitchen or participate in yoga and group fitness classes.

The Free Clinic also plans to open a dedicated dental clinic next door to the Health Center in early 2020. And while the Health Center and its staff continues to diversify and grow, we learned that they’re always looking for volunteer nurses or specialty physicians like dermatologists and ophthalmologists. 

This story was contributed by Beth Meccariello of B2 Communications. Sign up today to experience an Impact Tour.