By Gwen Rollings
Allison Alvarez Hedrick became the new executive director of Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center, located at 517 N. Parsons Ave. in Brandon, in October, but she is not unfamiliar to that area nor how important an outreach free clinic is to many hardworking families.
Hedrick said, “I grew up in Brandon, just a street over from where Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center is now. Even as a kid, I recall what a challenge it was when someone in the family needed to see a doctor. While my parents both worked—Mom worked in restaurants and Dad owned a small sports bar and grill—we didn’t have health insurance or much disposable income. Without a resource like Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center, doctor visits were paid for in cash—a significant hardship for a family living paycheck to paycheck and without sick time to also cover missing work. I would always feel so guilty if I needed to go to the doctor, knowing it would cost money not just for the visit, but also any prescriptions that might be needed. No one should experience obstacles to getting medical care or feel guilty about taking care of their health.”
Hedrick’s empathy, education and experience make her uniquely qualified to replace Deborah Meegan, who officially retired on December 17 after more than 18 years as executive director.
The Brandon High School and University of North Carolina at Pembroke graduate brings years of experience in marketing, communication, public relations and nonprofit affiliations with organizations like The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), Largo Cultural Center and Suncoast Girl Scout Council. Prior to becoming executive director, she was vice president of communications with WEDU PBS.
Hedrick expressed her first goal would be raising awareness for Hillsborough County residents that Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center is a volunteer-driven, nonprofit, nongovernment medical facility providing primary healthcare at no cost to those who do not qualify for government assistance and who cannot afford private medical care.
Her second priority is to expand support from volunteers, medical providers, donors and corporate partnerships. Although patients receive care from licensed doctors, nurse practitioners and medical residents who donate their time, the clinic relies on individual donations and community partnerships to maintain services to the community.
Hedrick said, “Outreach Free Clinic and Resource Center is probably the best kept secret in Hillsborough County … and we’re excited to change that.”
To learn more about the Outreach Clinic, visit www.theoutreachclinic.com or call 654-1388.