Uniting to bring hope to Bithlo

mobile clinicThe residents of Bithlo, a small community in east Orange County, struggle with poverty, hunger, high rates of illiteracy, and limited to no access to medical care. Residents frequently don’t seek medical care because of the distance and expense, and many community members, including children, have never set foot in a dentist’s office.

All that is about to change through a collaborative effort involving Catholic Charities of Central Florida, St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, and United Global Outreach. A medical bus provided by Catholic Charities will join United Global Outreach's "Transformation Village" service center in Bithlo and is being funded and staffed by St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners.

“It is mind boggling that this could exist in Orange County” says Kathy McGuiness, Pastoral Care Advocate at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church. “The challenges here are monumental.”

McGuiness remembers handing a new toothbrush to an eight year old boy. Seeing the confusion in his face, she realized he had never owned a toothbrush before.

“He didn’t know what to do with it” she recalls. “Imagine being eight years old and never having had a toothbrush!”

Beginning at the end of July, the bus will allow people to receive medical and dental services as well as mental health counseling.

“We feel privileged to help the people of Bithlo who are in great need” says Karen Beary, vice-president of Catholic Charities of Central Florida. “It is an honor to serve their needs when they have nowhere else to go.”

The expense of running the bus and the cost of a program coordinator is being funded by a $23,000 donation from St. Maximilian Kolbe, which tithes 10% of Sunday collections for outreach efforts. Parishioners are eager to begin and are preparing a team of volunteers who will assist the patients with paperwork as they enter the bus and provide transportation to appointments as needed.

“Bithlo is our neighbor and the gospel says to love your neighbor” explains Fr. David Scotchie, pastor at St. Maximilian Kolbe. “We don’t want to just write them a check. We want to do what Jesus did and build relationships, respect their dignity, get to know them, and pray for them.”

Catholic Charities of Central Florida is committed to working closely with parishes to help meet the critical needs of individuals and families. In addition to St. Maximilian Kolbe, Catholic Charities partners with other local parishes to provide free medical care to economically disadvantaged residents of Seminole, Lake, Sumter, Marion, and Osceola Counties.

Please click the following links for more information on these free medical clinics or to learn about giving options that support the work of Catholic Charities of Central Florida.

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