Turning turquoise into gold for community clinic
Special to the Courier
Few local people are aware that, according to the 2011 Texas County Health Rankings, Bandera County ranked 223 in that area out of 254 Texas counties.
The report also stated that 35 percent of adults in Bandera County do not have health insurance - compared with the national average of 13 percent. These statistics underscore the need for free and affordable healthcare in this Hill Country community.
Medical providers at the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic, an adjunct to Bandera County Helping Hand, provide this need. The clinic offers primary, preventive, mental and dental healthcare services to low-income patients without health insurance.
Although the clinic receives no federal or state funding, patients are not charged for healthcare its services - however, a third of the patients voluntarily contribute to the cost of their healthcare.
Clinical operations began in May 2008 with a patient load of 64 patient visits a month. Today the clinic averages 236 patient visits a month.
As it became increasingly overcrowded, the clinical facility no longer operated efficiently; it was simply not constructed to serve its current patient load.
Executive Director K. Irene Stone said, "We are seeing more patients than ever. Some days we see as many as 38 patients in a building with only two exam rooms."
Describing the present situation, she continued, "Every chair in the waiting room is filled, and our staff skips lunch so they can treat as many people as possible. Often we have had to turn down free help from medical professionals because we have no available space for them to office - much less see patients."
Capital campaign idea
To alleviate this critical situation, the clinic is now conducting a $450,000 capital campaign to remodel and expand its facilities to enhance the quality of patient care. This expansion would increase space efficiency, provide a more hospitable and less congested facility and improve patient privacy.
To assist with the current capital campaign and clinical expansion, event coordinator and local businessman, Melissa Benge, is planning a Texas-size shindig - the Turquoise Ball.
As Benge explained, "The color has always been a personal favorite of mine. Turquoise is a beautiful color that denotes sanctification, healing and life-affirmation - and it's just plain fun to wear! Both the color and the stone seems to be a common thread running throughout Bandera, so I thought, 'Let's dress up and give back to a worthy organization - the Arthur Nagle Community Clinic expansion'."
Enter Turquoise Ball
She continued, "I love the late Maudeen Marks' quote, 'My idea of heaven would be to own Texas, stock it with Texas longhorn cattle, staff it with Texas Rangers, ride from windmill to windmill and have a dance every night.' So, I thought, why not have a dance, throw in some turquoise and have a Turquoise Ball?"
Stone explained, "Without Melissa, the Turquoise Ball would be a pipe dream. She has the experience, talent and resources to put together an event of this magnitude with the capability of giving so much to the community and helping our own here in Bandera County."
Dan Wise, president of the clinic's board of directors, concurred, saying, "The Turquoise Ball is the highlight of our capital campaign. It is a way for people to have a great evening out, have a little fun, yet still help the clinic meet its campaign goal." Wise added, "Besides, it just feels good to give back."
The Turquoise Ball will take place at the Mansfield Park Show Barn off Highway 16 North on Saturday, Oct. 20. Doors to this Texas-size evening open at 6:30 pm and the soiree includes New Mexico-style fine dining and Western Swing dancing to the fiddle music of Grammy winner Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band. Live and silent auction are on tap throughout the evening.
Additionally, a juried art show will feature original artwork from local and national artists.
"Melissa has collaborated with all the exhibiting artists and designers.
It has been inspirational for her to see them embrace our cause and donate many signature designer pieces to the very special event," said Stone.
"We will have everything from beautiful one-of-a-kind turquoise necklaces and handcrafted purses, belts and boots to museum quality paintings and sculptures - all with a turquoise flair or natural, warm elements like leather or antler art," Benge noted, adding, "And, we promise there will be items in all price ranges."
All proceeds benefit ...
Advance tickets are $75 if purchased before Thursday, Sept. 20, and tables for 10 are $750. VIP tickets and tables that include special perks provided by Benge are also available for $125 and $1,250 respectively.
After Sept. 20, tickets will be $100 for individual tickets, $1,000 for tables, $150 for VIP individual tickets and $1,500 for VIP tables.
Local businesses will also have the opportunity to help the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic with sponsorship packages of $100. "We know the community wants to help, but sometimes that can be difficult in this economy. We've tried to keep the sponsorship costs as low as possible so more businesses could still be involved," said Benge.
Local businesses play a vital role in overall community health, according to Stone. "Many of our patients are employed by small businesses in the community who cannot afford to provide health insurance for their staff and families. Buying a sponsorship is one way the business owners can see that their employees can continue to have the quality healthcare that they, their spouses and their children need."
For more information on donations, submission of artwork or western items to the auction, sponsorships or purchasing tickets, visit www.TurquoiseBall.com or stop by the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic, 1116 12th Street. Telephone is 830-796-3448. Tickets are also available at Gunslinger and Graceful on Cypress Street.
All proceeds from the Melissa Benge Turquoise Ball will benefit the Arthur Nagel Community Clinic expansion project.
Pictured: in the hat- Melissa Benge
and K. Irene Stone