Originally created 02/12/99

Concert to benefit free clinic



The future of health care for the homeless in Augusta may ride on the voices of The Kingston Trio as the St. Vincent dePaul Health Center pegs its hopes on a benefit concert next month to keep operating.

Of its $150,000 annual budget, the clinic can only count on about $28,000 in federal grants this year and is looking for a boost from the March 4 concert, saidthe Rev. George Foster, president of the clinic's board of directors.

If the concert sells out the Imperial Theater, the clinic could clear $10,000 to $12,000, the Rev. Foster said.

The folk singing group has twice sold out in Augusta and was making a swing through Florida when the date became available, the Rev. Foster said.

The clinic, formerly called Coordinated Health Services, has been in financial straits since its funding from University Hospital's Indigent Care Trust Fund money was cut from $100,000 to $60,000 last year.

This year, University can provide only a single $20,000 staff position, said Cindy Lunsford, vice president for community services at University.

That leaves only the federal grants as confirmed funding to cover the clinic's operations, the Rev. Foster said. Last year, the clinic served about 3,000 people. Having moved last fall to clinic space at the Salvation Army, the demand "is obviously going to grow," the Rev. Foster said. The free clinic serves the homeless, the poor and those with no insurance.

A successful concert means "another month" of survival for the clinic, maybe more, said Rick Tuchscherer, who also serves on the clinic's board.

But the concert may also focus attention on the need for the clinic and attract more individual and corporate donors, the Rev. Foster said.

Tickets for the concert cost $21 and are on sale now at all Home Folks News and Record Shops, at the clinic and at St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church.

For more information, call (706) 733-6627.