By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Tree of Life Free Clinic founder Dr. Joe Bailey has been honored with a prestigious national public service award.
Bailey was one of five recipients of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award given as part of the Jefferson Awards on Tuesday night in Washington, D.C.
“I had no idea; it’s just good to be nominated,” said Bailey, who with a dedicated group of volunteers opened the free clinic nearly 31⁄2 years ago in Tupelo to take care of people without health insurance.
“We’ve had wonderful community help,” Bailey said.
WTVA named Bailey, Dr. Gene Norris Howell, Geraldean Monaghan, Tupelo Police Sgt. Tony Shackleford and state Rep. Steve Holland as local Jefferson Award recipients this year. Bailey was selected to be considered for the national award with nominees from 150 other Jefferson Award partners.
Each month, Bailey and his fellow volunteers take care of more than 200 patients during two clinics using a model they developed on foreign medical mission trips.
“We have people who wait in line for 10 hours, who have driven from 100 miles away,” Bailey said. “It really hits home.”