Wonder happens when you walk into the unknown, and a great surprise is waiting for you on the other side. Wonder is being in a state of awe, smiling unaware before what’s in front of you. Wonder comes unexpectedly, and it stays with you while you absorb everything around you.
Wonder has come to Manatee Technical College (MTC) three years in a row through the excellently-executed work of Remote Area Medical Clinic – RAM. Since 1985, RAM has provided mobile medical clinics nationally, delivering FREE, high-quality vision, dental, and medical services to children, individuals, and families who lack access to medical care. Medical treatments are free thanks to the volunteer work of hundreds of doctors, nurses, medical staff, assistants, interpreters, and guides. This year alone, on November 11–12, 839 volunteers worked to treat 947 patients, providing care valued at $372,597.
Visiting MTC during RAM weekend brings wonder, and it starts right in the parking lot. Vehicles begin to line up Friday afternoon hoping to guarantee they’ll receive a number. Numbers are distributed before dawn and as soon as the doors open at 6 a.m. Saturday morning, volunteers begin registering patients.
Once registered, the patient moves to the first main corridor where they engage with a nurse prior to seeing a doctor and receiving treatment. At the end of this corridor is a comfortable, well-managed waiting area that has been installed in front of the dentistry clinic — one of the most demanded services. The dental clinic occupies the majority of the MTC hall where dentists and dental hygienists perform oral check-ups, removals, and cleanings.
When exiting the dental clinic, patients reach a second hall that contains an area for general medicine, women’s health, and vision — complete with donated glasses so patients can leave RAM with their prescribed spectacles.
RAM proves to be quite an event with thirty-two years of experience nationally and three years of experience in our community. It is not just about how perfectly organized the event is, it not just about the value of care donated, the number of volunteers giving their time, the returning nurses and doctors that contribute their skills year after year, it is not even about the patients. It is about all of it, combined, plus what it represents. RAM is about who we are, a community that cares for its fellow members, a community that wants all of its people to thrive. And it all starts with being healthy.
Each year, patients attending RAM are offered the opportunity to connect with some of the wonderful resources available in our region at the Community Corridor.
This year, agencies like United Way Suncoast, educational institutions like State College of Florida, and businesses like Regions Bank, shared useful information about their organizations and provided fun activities for the children to do while they waited. A heartfelt thank you to Heather Koester for her tireless work in recruiting and coordinating the 26 agencies that created the Community Corridor.
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (SCGLR) shared information about Everyday Hero, Mind in the Making, and Vroom with parents and caregivers. Afterward, families were encouraged to use brightly colored props, including giant purple and yellow glasses, a purple feather boa, tiaras, and capes! to take pictures in front of the Everyday Hero backdrop. SCGLR also provided a reading nook where volunteers passed out 1600 books as gifts for the children provided by TPF.
Health is one of SCGLR’s solution areas to ensure that every child reads at grade level by the end of the 3rd grade, so a collaboration with RAM was logical. If our children aren’t healthy, they aren’t present in school. Thus they are unable to learn and accomplish the milestone of reading proficiently by the end of 3rd grade.
What SCGLR witnessed at the Community Corridor fuels us all year round to continue doing the work that we do, caring for our families and children.
Stay tuned for Part II of this blog post!