The University of Arizona has selected St. Elizabeth’s Health Center
as the beneficiary of its UA Cats in the Community Day
, the University’s “extreme non-profit makeover,” Saturday, March 2, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On that day, several hundred UA faculty, staff and student volunteers will descend upon the clinic’s grounds at 140 W. Speedway Blvd., near the downtown campus of Pima Community College, to clean, paint, organize, plant and decorate, giving the non-profit a much-needed makeover. In addition, under the direction of UA art Professor Jackson Boelts, UA graphic arts students compete in teams prior to Cats Day to develop plans for a graphic makeover of the selected agency. The winning team then installs its numerous artistic and graphic enhancements during UA Cats in the Community Day.
At 7:45 a.m., just before the work begins, UA, city and county officials will make very brief remarks. Speakers include Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild; UA Provost Andrew Comrie, PhD, and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, among others.
Founded in 1961 and housed under the umbrella of Catholic Community Services, St. Elizabeth's Health Center provides quality medical and dental care for the uninsured and underserved. The clinic is staffed primarily with volunteer physicians, dentists, nurses and dental hygienists. In addition to providing primary medical services and dental care, the health center provides obstetric and newborn care. It also provides chronic disease management, integrated behavioral health and community outreach for health education and nutrition services. The clinic manages about 25,000 patient visits per year.
Sheila McGinnis, director of outreach and community partnerships in the UA Office of Community Relations, said this year’s effort marks the first time UA Cats in the Community Day will focus on a community health center. Visibility has been a problem for the clinic, McGinnis said, because the building does not face the street, making it difficult to find. Volunteers will help by adding signs outside and inside the building, she said. A children's play area is set to get a major overhaul and there will be "lots and lots and lots of painting, almost all indoors," McGinnis added.
Jane Bakos, executive director of St. Elizabeth's, said the clinic staff was "delighted" when it found out over the summer it had been selected for UA Cats in the Community Day. The clinic has been in the same building since 1961 and has seen additions over time, as needs have grown, she said. The building originally had been a schoolhouse. Many of the projects slated for this year's UA Cats in the Community Day previously were deferred because the clinic lacks sufficient funds, Bakos said.
"This gives us an opportunity to do some things that we would never be able to do for our patients and staff," she said.
Past recipients of UA Cats in the Community Day include Sewell Elementary, the Wildcat School, Project YES, the Primavera Foundation and World Care, a humanitarian aid foundation. The day was conceived as a way for the UA community to give back to the larger community while educating volunteers about pressing needs, building team spirit and leaving a positive impact on the surrounding area.
In conjunction with the event, McGinnis said, the UA plans to conduct a drive for toothbrushes and toothpaste for the clinic's dentists to give to children, and a drive for self-care products for female clinic patients who are fighting cancer.