Raitt gives clinic fans something to talk about - The Daily Progress: Entertainment/Life

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Raitt gives clinic fans something to talk about

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Posted: Friday, June 8, 2012 7:00 am | Updated: 11:24 am, Wed Jan 23, 2013.


Some of the most grateful people in the area can be found entering and leaving Suite 200 at 1138 Rose Hill Drive in Charlottesville.

This is the address of the Charlottesville Free Clinic. For 20 years, people with everything from scary bump on their bodies to excruciating toothaches have found relief there.

This place of care and compassion serves as a safety net for low-income, uninsured adults and their families living in the greater Charlottesville-Albemarle County region. Since 1992, this haven has provided free primary medical care, prescription medications and dental care for those in need.

Last year, 3,200 patients were cared for at the facility, and the clinic’s on track to exceed that number this year. According to the clinic, about 25 percent of these people say they wouldn’t have sought help if the clinic hadn’t existed.

Around 35 percent of CFC patients say that without the free facility, they would have gone to a local hospital’s emergency room for treatment. In 2011 it was estimated that the free clinic saved local hospitals about $8.3 million by giving these patients an alternative place for outpatient medical care.

On Tuesday evening, singer-songwriter Bonnie Raitt will present a concert at nTelos Wireless Pavilion to benefit CFC. This is the second time the socially conscious superstar has taken the stage in support of the clinic.

“This annual benefit concert is the anchor for our fundraising efforts each year,” said Erika Viccellio, executive director of CFC. “This is the ninth year we’ve done it, and it has been successful each time.

“Bonnie Raitt did it five years ago, and it was our most successful show. She was so generous with her time and talent and really connected with our cause.

“So we were thrilled that she wanted to come back and support us in this way again.”

Raitt, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has a long history of using her talents to help good causes such as CFC. The nine-time Grammy Award winner rose to international fame by merging blues, country and rock, and tying it all together with some of the best slide guitar playing in the business.

Internationally celebrated blues and gospel singer Mavis Staples also will perform at the concert. The long-time civil rights activist started her singing career in 1950 as a member of the Staples Singers and later branched out into acting in films and on television shows.

Those attending the concert likely will have a chance to hear some of the cuts off Raitt’s new album, “Slipstream,” released in April. This is her 19th album and her first studio album since 2005, when “Souls Alike” came out.

The seven-year hiatus was due partly to personal losses Raitt had to deal with, including the passing of her parents, brother and a best friend. Recharged and reinvigorated, she is back on the road and performing at East Coast venues before heading to Texas to tape an installment of “Austin City Limits” for television viewers on June 27.

Viccellio said that the last time Raitt conducted a benefit concert for CFC, she raised a third of the clinic’s yearly operating budget. In the ensuing five years the clinic’s budget has more than doubled, in large part because of an increasing need.

“The clinic is for people who are uninsured and can’t qualify for free health care elsewhere,” Viccellio said. “There are services at each of our local hospitals for people who have no income at all.

“We pick up where the hospitals leave off. Most of our patients are above the federal poverty level.

“These are the working folks who are often working multiple jobs. But because health insurance premiums are so expensive, they either can’t afford the co-pays or their employer can’t offer health care insurance for them.”

Viccellio said projections indicate that an additional $300,000 will have to be added to the budget next year to meet the increasing need. This is particularly daunting, as the clinic doesn’t have any revenue-generating programs, and everything it does is free.

Fortunately, many individuals, businesses, churches, civic organizations and local and state governments help with financial support. And the Martha Jefferson Hospital and the University of Virginia Health System also help a great deal.

“We’re blessed with two wonderful hospitals,” Viccellio said. “I know part of the reason we’re able to do what we do here is because both hospitals support us in such significant ways.

“And our more than 500 volunteers make this place go. We operate primarily with all volunteers, and the number of patients we can see is dependent on the number of volunteers we have.

“The biggest thing we need beyond donations are volunteers, especially medical providers. Doctors, dentists and pharmacists are our top three needs.

“The benefit concert is our signature fundraiser of the year, but it’s also a friend-raiser. Hopefully, some people will learn about us through the concert and decide to help.”

Bonnie Raitt’s benefit concert for the Charlottesville Free Clinic will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at nTelos Wireless Pavilion. Mavis Staples is the guest artist. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $59 lower orchestra, $45 upper orchestra and $35 lawn, and are available at www.thenteloswirelesspavilion.com. For more information on the CFC, or to help, go to www.cvillefreeclinic.org.

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