An online auction for Christian Community Health Care was more successful than ever, even in this disrupted year of COVID-19.
The charity’s Grabill clinic provides free care for many illnesses, annually serving about 1,000 patients in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
The Sept. 28 A Heart for Our Community virtual benefit included a variation on the silent auction that generates income each fall.
“We haven’t gotten the final results in on the financial impact,” CCHC Executive Director Mark Schlatter said in an interview. “One thing I can share is we threw (the auction) into our online event and that raised more money than we ever have before.”
“That’s a blessing,” he said.
“People are really in a very giving mood this year because of everything everyone is going through with COVID-19. People are really sensitive to that need,” he said. “That’s a blessing.”
The in-person banquet featuring a speaker gave way to an online program this year. CCHC received donations of technical assistance with that process, too. The online audience heard Pastor James Brooks of Chicago, “who is committed to listening to and responding to the people who have been hurt and marginalized by society.” Brooks is senior pastor of Harmony Community Church and the chief ministry officer at Lawndale Christian Health Center.
Schlatter said the clinic at 13410 Main St., Grabill, has a very simple philosophy. “Everything is free and you don’t have to meet any qualifications,” he said. “We try to make it as simple as possible and take away all the barriers to seeing a doctor.”
Abut 55% of the patients are from Fort Wayne, about 20% are from northeast Allen County, and the remainder are from Paulding and Defiance counties in Ohio, DeKalb, Noble and Whitley counties in Indiana, and as far as Steuben and LaGrange counties. “In fact, I had a man last week who came in from Topeka because he couldn’t find the help he needed,” Schlatter said Thursday.
The clinic is approaching its 25th year. Schlatter said he signed on as a board member about a year after CCHC was formed. “I’ve just kept with the organization ever since,” he said. “I’ve just fallen deeply in love with everything that clinic does and really love being involved in leadership.
"About 10 years ago, they asked me to come on board as executive director. We had never had an executive director before. It had always just been run by a board of directors. We just had grown so much that we needed to pay attention more to the organization and administration.
“That’s just sort of my niche, so I just jumped right in there.”
“When we first started the clinic, it was located in a church building here in Leo,” he said. “About 10 years later, we had the opportunity to buy a doctor’s office in Grabill, and we raised the money for it for an entire year. We’ve been able to grow because of our own storefront location.”
He said CCHS has had to tighten its policies for the moment. “Right now, because of COVID-19, we’ve had to change our protocols slightly. We are asking everybody to call in for a phone screening.” After that, appointments are scheduled. CCHC does not treat COVID-19 patients.
Some people still arrive unannounced, he said, so the staff conducts the screening at that time.
CCHS also looks to monthly pledges and other donations to support its work. Schlatter hopes for an in-person gathering for A Heart for Our Community 2021. Follow christiancommunityhealthcare.org for updates or to donate.