KALAMAZOO, MI – For 50 years, the Family Health Center has provided health care to the historically underserved citizens of Kalamazoo.
To celebrate this milestone anniversary, the medical nonprofit announced that it will be implementing “50 Acts of Kindness” over the remaining three months of 2021. The community is invited to participate where opportunities are available, according to a press release from the organization.
Over the next three months, staff at the health center will embark on a series of actions aimed at impacting lives in meaningful ways, large and small, the statement said.
These plans range from creating events for local nonprofits to surprising local diners with a free lunch to providing school supplies to classrooms at Kalamazoo public schools. They also include offering pop-up wellness clinics in local neighborhoods, hosting neighborhood garage sales and movie nights, and volunteering to clean up neighborhoods, plant trees, and serve meals.
“The Family Health Center began 50 years ago as an act of community compassion,” FHC President and CEO Denise Crawford said in a statement. “Kalamazoo recognized the need to bring quality health care to those who did not have access to it, and the community rallied to meet this need; that’s why FHC continues to share a legacy of kindness. It’s a powerful and productive way we can all celebrate.
“50 Acts of Kindness is designed to surprise, support and appreciate everyone who has been involved in realizing our founding dream: healthcare for all, regardless of ability to pay.
The federally licensed, non-profit health center was founded in 1971, at a time when only one doctor’s office and no dental clinics served the Northside neighborhood of Kalamazoo. To fill this gap in service, Dr. Charles Alexander, the city’s first African-American physician, helped lead the charge to establish the clinic.
Civil rights leader Moses Walker, former Kalamazoo Deputy Mayor Gilbert Bradley and Kalamazoo County Commissioner Reverend B. Moses James joined the effort. Together with local citizens, they established the Kalamazoo Community Health Center, which later became the Family Health Center.
The clinic began as a trailer with a small medical staff, located at the corner of West Paterson and North Burdick streets in the current location of the Moses L. Walker Family Health Center building. The organization also operates a clinic on East Alcott Street in the Edison neighborhood of Kalamazoo, as well as a mobile health clinic and a mobile dental clinic.
Over the years, the nonprofit organization has expanded to provide family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, immediate care, specialty care, transgender care, laboratory testing and screening, dental care, behavioral and mental health care, medical social work, treatment of substance use disorders. , physiotherapy and occupational therapy, WIC and nutrition advice, pharmacy services and integrated care management.
Currently, FHC provides healthcare to approximately 50,000 historically underserved patients, with a mission to ensure that all who enter its facilities are treated with dignity, respect and a welcoming spirit.
As the organization turns 50, Crawford said it will also celebrate its employees.
“We have a team of truly dedicated healthcare professionals who provide the best patient care every day,” she said. “They are the reason we are able to continue to serve our community in countless ways.”
Those interested in following the FHC 50 Acts of Kindness campaign, or getting involved and participating can do so online at fhckzoo.com. Announcements, event dates and updates will be posted regularly.
Ongoing events include a drive for winter clothing for the Salvation Army and a drive for relief items for Afghan refugees; assembly of care packages for those serving in the military on October 20 and cleanup of neighborhoods scheduled for October 30.
As for those directly involved, the Family Health Center hopes the plans in recognition of its 50th anniversary will inspire others to pay it by doing acts of kindness in their own way, the organization said.
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