The We Care Foundation celebrated another year of providing specialty medical care and services to uninsured and underinsured patients with an over-the-top Mardi Gras at the Oak Harbor Club.
A roving magician, stilt-walker and fortune teller brought a bit of New Orleans flair to Vero Beach before the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band led the way into the dining room to start the festivities. The Indian River Charter High School Performing Arts students then kicked things into high gear with a spectacular performance.
After indulging in a sumptuous dinner – as one does on Fat Tuesday – guests bid on various auction items, purchased tickets for a jewelry raffle, and played a high-stakes game of Hi/Lo, all to enable the foundation to continue providing care.
“This is a special time for the We Care Foundation, and tonight we have so much to celebrate; a rich history and a very bright future,” said Jennifer Jones, who recently became the executive director of the nonprofit.
Noting that We Care had been founded by the late Dr. Dennis Saver, she added, “He believed that every person deserves quality healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.”
Jones explained that despite working multiple jobs, their clients often need to decide between putting food on the table and paying their bills.
“They live paycheck to paycheck. Becoming sick or getting injured and not going to work could easily displace them and their families from their homes,” said Jones.
She commented that after identifying language, education and transportation as key barriers to care, they implemented translation protocols, now have a patient advocate, and will provide transportation to improve patient care.
We Care has also partnered with Treasure Coast Community Health to share space and enable better patient access.
Since making that connection, she said they have given hope to nearly 500 individuals needing critical care.
“Over 40 specialty physicians volunteered and provided life-changing services within 17 care areas, including cardiology, dermatology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology,” said Jones.
Physicians volunteer to provide more than $1 million in vital services each year, and the foundation supplements that care by providing short-term prescription assistance, transportation for medical appointments, cataract lenses and medical supplies.
Jones said they offer care to those who “need it most and who have little of it,” before sharing the story of a 37-year-old mother recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectal Cancer.
Sharing the woman’s words, Jones said, “because I don’t have insurance, We Care has saved my life. They provided me with the ability to have this test done.
“Otherwise, I would have never been able to afford it. Ultimately, that test saved my life.”
For more information, visit wecareofirc.org.
Photos by Joshua Kodis