Since the pandemic began, St. Benedict Health & Healing Ministry has been holding free clinics in tents outdoors due to the closure of buildings the nonprofit organization regularly visited around Boulder County.
As temperatures continue to drop, St. Benedict was in an active search of a mobile clinic unit to keep patients and volunteers out of the cold.
Now, St. Benedict volunteers can continue to provide free healthcare in a sheltered space after a donated RV was sold to them by Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve been looking for several months knowing cold weather’s here and we needed a different option other than the tents,” said Shelly Dierking, Executive Director of St. Benedict. “I just happened to come across this vehicle that was affordable and would benefit Habitat for Humanity.”
According to a press release, the RV was originally donated to Habitat for Humanity by a long time supporter of the nonprofit, Gary Schlessman. Habitat for Humanity then sold St. Benedict the RV at a significantly reduced price, allowing them to pay half this year and the other half in 2021.
Money from the RV sale will go to benefit Habitat for Humanity to help keep people housed during the pandemic, Dierking said.
“This is a perfect example of the tremendous impact for good that can be leveraged when community partners and nonprofits work together to help those in desperate need in our communities,” said Executive Director of Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity, Cheri Witt-Brown in the release.
St. Benedict has been providing free, walk-in healthcare to the homeless, low-income individuals and others who lack access to healthcare resources in Boulder County since 2003. More than 38 physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical therapists volunteer with St. Benedict and take care of patients.
The organization would hold its clinics at churches, community centers, and low-income senior centers in Boulder County. Patients can get their blood pressure checked, their wounds looked at, get over-the-counter medicine, and receive many other services they may need.
Since the pandemic started, Dierking said she’s seen a change in the patient demographic with an increased number of younger people and families coming in for free healthcare.
“We provide over 1,000 clinical services every year, we do seven to 10 free clinics every month and we are taking care of patients the same as your primary care doctor,” said Dierking. “We’re helping them manage their diabetes, heart failure, we do a lot of wound care. This past month, we just did 41 free flu vaccines.”
During the pandemic, St. Benedict would set up tents near places the homeless or low-income people would go for food or resources, such as the OUR Center in Longmont or the Sister Carmen Community Center in Lafayette. With their new mobile unit, Dierking is hoping to go to places they’ve never gone before.
“When you have volunteers, a pool of people, and you’re not billing for care, you have more time to spend with the patients to help them with whatever it is that they’re struggling with,” Dierking said. “We also give out masks, hand sanitizer, hats, gloves, socks, toothpaste, all kinds of personal hygiene items which are super important in prevention during the pandemic.”
When a vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available, Dierking hopes to be part of the solution in ending the pandemic and quickly get people vaccinated.
Dierking feels incredibly grateful Habitat for Humanity allowed them to purchase their RV at a price they couldn’t swing during normal circumstances. With its new mobile unit, St. Benedict may cross-volunteer in the future with Habitat for Humanity to begin helping people in Greeley.
Witt-Brown said in the release this opportunity was made possible by the generosity of everyone involved, including the original donor, Schlessman, the Great Outdoors RV Owner, Jeremy Heberer, the Great Outdoors RV General Manager, Matt Brown, and the Great Outdoors RV Sales Manager, Kyle Ellinger.
“It’s been such a huge blessing for us that Habitat for Humanity is willing to work with us on the purchase price and allow us to pay part in 2020 and the rest in 2021,” Dierking said in the release. “It will allow us to continue to care for the most vulnerable in our community, those who have lost their jobs and their health insurance, and many who are experiencing homelessness for the first time.”