“It exceeded our expectations,” organizer Father Bernie Lindley said. “We expected 150 (people) and we ended up with well over 200.”
The final tallies aren’t in yet, but Lindley said the event raised more than $2,500.
The clinic is located in the basement of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church at 401 Fir St.
The fundraiser was held to raise money for clinic costs that aren’t covered by grant money. For example, Lindley said, grant money can’t cover specialists.
All of the raised funds will go toward benefiting patients and medical care, Lindley said. The clinic is 100 percent staffed by volunteers.
In 13 months of operation, the clinic has had more than 1,100 office visits, Lindley said. Last Tuesday alone 27 patients walked in.
Sherri Mendez, who attended the dinner, is one patient who utilized the clinic.
Mendez said she doesn’t have insurance, and she wasn’t able to afford a doctor in Brookings.
“They completely changed my life,” she said. “I’m going to support it in any way I can. I’d like to see everybody support these guys.”
Wendy Hammon, a patient of the doctor who started the clinic, said the event went well.
“They did an excellent job,” she said. “Very well organized.”
In addition to the albacore tuna dinner, there was also live entertainment on Friday, including a magician named Buddy, a performance by Giraffes on a Raft and a raffle.
There were people from St. Timothy’s, other congregations in town, as well as community members who support the program.
There were so many who attended that organizers ran out of food.
Next year, to try to better meet the demand, Lindley said he might stagger the meal times.
“We didn’t anticipate anything like that,” Lindley said. “We’re grateful for it because what it shows is the community is really behind what we’re doing with the free clinic.”