A uniquely generous act

Published 2:26 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

LiA donation worth $50,000 would be a big deal for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, regardless of the circumstances. But the background of the donation John and Ginger Kennedy recently made to the clinic makes it special, indeed.

The Kennedys, a Windsor couple, recently decided to give up on a plan they’d had to build a house on a 1.8-acre property they had bought in 2005, and instead of selling the land, they chose to donate it to a worthy cause. Following a discussion with Suffolk real estate attorney Frank Rawls, who gave them a list of possible recipients, they chose the free clinic as the beneficiary of their largesse.

What’s especially interesting about their choice is the fact that the Kennedys were not familiar with the clinic or its work prior to their donation. They were not involved with the organization, and, in fact, they had never met the folks who run it.

“I think I said, ‘Are you sure?’” Miriam Beiler, executive director at the clinic, recalled as her reaction. “I think one of the surprising things about it was we had never met the Kennedys before. That made it somewhat unique, that they weren’t really familiar with the clinic and still chose give to the clinic.”

Officials at the clinic quickly turned the gift of land into cash, turning to a local auctioneer to sell it and netting $50,000 in the process. That’s a big donation, no matter who made it, and it will make a big difference for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.

The clinic opened in 2007 and, by the end of 2012, had served 2,300 patients with insufficient financial means to visit the doctor. Donations of money and equipment, along with volunteer hours, are its lifeblood and have enabled it to continue growing since it was conceived.

The Kennedys may not have known the folks at WTFC when they decided to make their recent donation, but it’s likely they’ll be long remembered by the people at the clinic for their generosity. That’s just the kind of story that makes Western Tidewater unique.