Donation lifts Tree of Life clinic

TUPELO – The Tree of Life-Arbol de la Vida Free Clinic has received a significant infusion from a Tupelo foundation.
The Dorothy D. and George H. Ruff Foundation has donated $20,000 to the mission clinic, which provides free medical care and prescriptions for people without health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.
“They have done so much with so little and they’re serving hundreds of people,” said D.D. Ruff Nicholau, who serves as president for her parents’ foundation. “We want to encourage others to help.”
The Tree of Life had more than 100 people seek care at its first Wednesday night clinic on July 7. Now the clinic, which started with monthly clinics in January has passed 1,000 patient visits.
Individuals, churches, businesses and agencies have stepped up to help the clinic provide services and medications.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said clinic founder Dr. Joe Bailey, and the Ruff donation has been the biggest monetary donation the clinic has received.
The small, private foundation has focused primarily on education issues in Tupelo and Mississippi; however, the Tree of Life Free Clinic echoes the dedication Nicholau’s parents had for mission work.
“I love the idea of bringing missions home to Tupelo,” Nicholau said. “You don’t realize how big the need is until you start trying to fill it.”
The Tree of Life board is trying to decide how to best use the donation, Bailey said. The wish list of needs includes X-ray equipment, dental equipment and a computerized pharmacy system. The clinic also needs more medical professional volunteers.

Michaela Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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