In 1993, Ted Wymyslo, M.D., Cheryl Maurana, Ph.D., and Syed Ahmed, M.D., met to discuss how we could develop a program to help the uninsured and underserved population of Dayton using volunteers. We had 5 weeks time to bring 3 major organizations (Wright State University School of Medicine, Montgomery County Medical Society, and the Public Health Department of Dayton and Montgomery County) to the table, meet with potential key partners, form a committee, build a consensus, and write a major grant in response to a request from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.
As Dr. Ahmed was still very new to Dayton, his colleagues were very instrumental in helping him to venture into this initiative. We received strong support from many quarters, but we also received comments like "Nobody needs a program like this since everybody can get health care if they want to." We ignored the negative comments and went ahead with a proposal to address our county's needs.
In 1994, we became one of the grant recipients out of hundreds of applicants. We also become, in the same year, a 501c (3) organization, developed a board of directors and two committees to implement our objectives. By March 1995, we started seeing patients in our clinic long before any other Reach Out grantee started doing the same. With the collaboration of Wright State University, we did a major research project to define the health care needs of the uninsured/underserved and their barriers to health care.
We have had more than 12,000 clinic visits taken care of by more than 300 volunteers. We started with two clinics, one on the east side of Dayton and the other on the west side of Dayton. In March 2006, Reach Out moved its clinics and administration offices into one building at 25 E. Foraker St.
Collaboration has been the cornerstone of our success. All of this has been possible because we believe that our country needs to help the uninsured and underserved and trust that we can address this issue. We do not believe that volunteerism alone will serve the serious issues of health care access, but it definitely can and does help the ailing system. Our program has become one of the most successful, nationally known programs of its kind due to the dedication of its leaders, volunteers, board members, and employees.
Dr. Ahmed has moved to Wisconsin, but has stayed as a consultant and advisor to this program and continues to help it grow from a distance. This note is to thank all of you for making this dream come true. A small group of friends gave their time, talent and energy to make it happen. Dr. Ahmed's parting words was a quote from Margaret Meade... "Never doubt that a small, committed group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, that is the only thing that ever has."
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