Ode to a special friend of Good Neighbor Medical Clinic

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMay 14, 2013 

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Caroline Lutz, winner of the 2012 Caritas Award for Catholic Woman of the Year, is flanked by Father Paul MacNeil of St. Peter's Catholic Church, and Terry Buquet, director of Our Lady's Pantry and Catholic Charities representative.

PHOTO BY BARBARA PAYNE. — Submitted photo

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    Email David Lauderdale at dlauderdale@islandpacket.com.

Thanks to Barbara Payne of St. Helena Island for sharing the story of a special boost to the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic.

Barbara calls her essay, "A shining light helps the low-income, uninsured population":

Caroline Lutz is a brilliant, caring lawyer, who has combined these gifts with collaboration and grant writing skills to bring new life to the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic.

She wrote the successful applications for four grants that the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic was awarded in 2012:

  • $5,000 from the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry Touch Tomorrow Beaufort Endowment Fund for technical equipment and quality improvement.

  • $30,000 from Wal-Mart State Giving Program to expand service to people with low incomes and no insurance.

  • $5,000 from Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina to expand service and for general operating funds.

  • $5,000 from the Beaufort Fund also to expand services and for general operating funds.

  • This $45,000 makes a huge difference to a nonprofit organization like the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic, which had been struggling after missing some granting opportunities in 2011. The grant money will enable the clinic to provide many more services to many more uninsured, low-income clients.

    The Good Neighbor Medical Clinic is in the Professional Village on Lady's Island and provides free medical care for low-income, uninsured residents of Beaufort County without regard to age, race, sex, ethnicity or religion.

    Caroline Lutz, a retired corporate lawyer who serves on the board of directors of the clinic, was diagnosed with a rare cancer known as SDHB-paraganglioma in 2006. She started working with Beaufort-area nonprofits at that time, since she was more physically limited and wanted rewarding work that would be flexible enough to fit in around her cancer treatment schedule.

    Her first experience was with Our Lady's Pantry -- a food pantry run by St. Peter's Catholic Church at the time and now managed by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston.

    When Caroline began to work for the pantry, the Beaufort real estate market crashed, and the number of people seeking food assistance rose dramatically, so she became a very busy and successful grant writer. By the time the pantry was transferred to Catholic Charities in 2011, it was the largest food pantry in the Lowcountry and distributed more than two times the food of the next largest food pantry.

    Caroline's work for nonprofit organizations led to her receiving the 2012 Caritas Award for Catholic Woman of the Year from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which includes most of South Carolina. This distinguished award is given annually to one recipient. Caroline's work with the food pantry led to work with other nonprofits, including Good Neighbor Medical Clinic.

    Fred Leyda, Beaufort County's director of Human Services, knows Caroline through their membership at St. Peter's Catholic Church and through the volunteer work Caroline does with human services agencies. Fred says Caroline's uncanny ability to take a complex subject and express it in terms people understand is what has made her such an outstanding grant writer.

    Mike Green, chairman of the board of the medical clinic and pastor of The Link, says Caroline combines a skill set that includes a legal background, the ability to express needs and services, and the ability to find creative sources. He said Caroline has brought new life to the clinic with the award of these grants.

    Edna Crews, regional vice president of the Coastal Community Foundation, says that the Beaufort Fund is one of the largest competitive funds of that foundation. When asked what qualities of the clinic's grant application made it favorable, Edna replied that the application Caroline wrote was "a grant reader's dream." She said answers were clear, compelling and concise. She said it reflected research and "reveals a very caring person."

    For two years, Caroline labored to obtain a three-year $500,000 grant from Duke University's Endowment Fund, awarded in the fall of 2010, to bring about AccessHealth, a network of providers of health care services to the low-income, uninsured adults in Beaufort and Jasper counties. The primary goal is to help uninsured residents find a primary care medical home. It is a statewide effort of 16 agencies that encourages and supports community-based networks of care. The ultimate goal of these agencies is to link qualified people with primary medical care, so that when they have medical needs they do not end up in emergency rooms, an existing situation that puts a huge strain on hospital budgets and often leaves needy patients with large bills they cannot pay. The Good Neighbor Medical Clinic is part of AccessHealth of the Lowcountry.

    According to Dixie Schlichter of LifeFit at Beaufort Memorial Hospital, which manages AccessHealth, Caroline brings the "gift of knowledge" to her grant proposals that have brought life into both AccessHealth and to the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic. Cindy Coburn Smith of LifeFit said Caroline is "always collaborative. She brings her legal assets and her willingness to volunteer to the party."

    Carol Waggoner, executive director of the clinic, said, "Caroline Lutz is a vivacious, enthusiastic, delightful person who has brought her legal assets to the party and infused the Good Neighbor Medical Clinic with new life."

    Thank you, Caroline Lutz!

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