Help is coming for thousands of folks on our First Coast who can't afford a dentist.
The Apple Project is a huge success thanks to you! So many of you cheered us on and raised money. The Weaver Family Foundation, now affiliated with The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, promised to match community donations up to $100,000. The First Coast stepped up to the challenge in just 10 weeks.
Community Health Outreach can now begin construction of a new, free dental clinic on Timuquana Road. It's scheduled to open in the fall of 2014 and intends to serve 6,000 patients.
Wednesday morning's giant celebration demolition included school kids, construction workers, volunteers, dental patients and organizers.
Each person got a chance to swing a sledgehammer to knock down the old structures to make way for the new.
The clinic's director, Mary Ann Cox, said in 2013, the existing West Jacksonville facility served 2,000 patients.
"We got here because in this country we have a gap in dental care," Cox said. "We are talking about the working poor. They have jobs but no insurance and dental pain is an emergency."
The old clinic has been operating out of a tiny building for the past two decades. A few years ago, Rotary Jacksonville helped the organization with an awning project and saw the need for a new dental clinic.
"Jeannie (Blaylock) said 'let me write a letter to the Community Foundation," said Cox. "She wanted them to know First Coast News is involved."
Former Jaguars owner Delores Weaver, whose Weaver Family Foundation was taken over by the Community Foundation, issued a challenge.
The challenge was, if $100,000 was raised, she will match it. "It works," Weaver said. "People leverage their dollars like I leverage mine."
After knocking on doors and countless fundraisers, they raised the $100,000 and Wednesday turned into a day of celebration.
"We did it in 10 weeks," Cox said. "It is remarkable."
After Wednesday's demolition, construction should start in April.
"We will open this year and will be able to do more," Cox said. " ... On day one, we will be able to triple our caseload. That will be 6,000 patients in one year."
Licensed contractor and supplier in-kind support still needed:
- Temporary doublewide to operate clinic
- Temporary single wide for construction office
- Temporary storage container
- Temporary toilets
- Waste disposal
- Asbestos abatement
- Cabinets and countertops
- Doors and hardware
- Crane (set trusses)
- Glass and glazing
- Vinyl composite tile
- Materials Only
- General supplies (safety supplies, caution tape, silt fence, etc.)
- Asphalt shingles
- Air conditioning equipment