Each year, the Woman’s Club of Laurel raises funds to assist charitable efforts; this year, members decided to make the club’s largest donation to date.
Officials from the club, which has existed for 101 years, donated $10,000 in May to the WellMobile program, a partnership between the state and private donors that provides free health care and social work services to uninsured residents. The program, which began in 1994, is run through the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore.
The WellMobile, a bus, is staffed with nurse practitioners and social workers who provide free health care services. Visitors are screened to ensure they don’t have health insurance.
“We were just so amazed that someone would care and that they had done the work to find out we were in the community,” Wellmobile director Susan Antol, a professor at the UM nursing school, said of the donation. “It was uplifting.”
State budget cuts in 2009 led to a 50 percent reduction in the program’s funding, Antol said. The cost of operating the Wellmobile for fiscal 2011 was $345,250, with $285,250 coming from the state, she said.
As a result of the cuts, the former statewide program now focuses on the high need areas of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, Antol said. In fiscal 2010, it provided primary care and social work services to 1,364 residents in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, Antol said.
The donation will help the Wellmobile hire a nurse care coordinator position to serve as a liaison between patients and nurse practitioners, and help patients in the long-term transition from Wellmobile service to a traditional health care provider, she added.
Every other year, the 50-member woman’s club uses money from its annual Breakfast with Santa fundraiser, sales and plant sales to support a large-scale outreach project.
Despite a weak economy, the club’s most recent Breakfast with Santa raised its highest total ever, club president Jennifer McLaughlin said. The event raised $1,143 last year, compared to about $800 in past years.
McLaughlin said the club usually sets aside $750 every two years for an outreach project. But this year the club decided to dig into leftover fundraising revenues from the past seven years to make a large donation.
“It’s nice to be able to have the means to really make a difference in a program that benefits the local community,” McLaughlin said.
Previous club outreach efforts have included donating baby supplies to the Laurel Pregnancy Center and assembling totes with reading materials for elementary school students.
Since September, the Wellmobile has provided primary care services to 135 adults and children at the Deerfield Run Community Center, where it has been stationed the first and third Monday of every month for eight years.
Kim Hughes, a nurse at Deerfield Run Elementary School in Laurel, said she has seen an increase in the number of uninsured students and their families who use the Wellmobile.
“They serve a diverse and underserved and uninsured segment of the Laurel community,” said club secretary Kathy Hanns. “They do a lot of wellness, prevention programs and offer social work services to guide people in the right direction.”