With its miles and miles of white sandy beaches, 350 tennis courts and 24 championship golf courses, some of the finest culinary cuisine offered in the Lowcountry, countless cultural opportunities and true Southern hospitality, the reasons abound that set Hilton Head Island apart as a retiree’s dream. But what happens when you become bored with all the golf, tennis, dining out and shopping? When it’s time to find something perhaps a bit more meaningful to occupy part of your time? When it’s time to find a place that you, too, will quickly and enthusiastically call a home away from home?
Welcome to the story behind the creation of Volunteers in Medicine Hilton Head Island (VIM). A “failure” at his golf retirement having “never been so bored in his life,” VIM founder Dr. Jack McConnell started VIM as a mere idea in 1993. His vision was simple – combine the overwhelming need for those less fortunate in this beautiful place that we call home with the time, dedication and skills of retired doctors, nurses, and laypeople alike. As a result of Dr. Jack’s dedication and commitment and for the first time in history, retired medical professionals and laypeople joined forces to voluntarily provide medical care for the underserved in our community who either live or work on Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands.
Today, more than 20 years later, VIM provides medical care across 23 medical specialties (including dental, mental health and prescription drug care) and five disease management clinics through more than 30,000 patient visits annually. VIM Hilton Head serves as the flagship model for 96 free clinics around the country who operate under VIM’s established and successful guidelines. We receive no government funding and rely solely on the support of foundations, local businesses and VIM’s generous and substantial community of individual donors. VIM serves as an invaluable resource to our neighbors in need – keeping entire families healthy, out of the emergency room, and able to stay at work or in school and remain productive members of society.
VIM primarily treats the “working poor” of the community; in fact 70% of our patients are employed. These are the landscapers, cleaners, maintenance workers, all the people responsible for keeping Hilton Head Island the pristine paradise that we love to call home.
All of this great work is only possible through the dedication of our small army of volunteers…the more than 600 volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, and laypeople who serve as greeters, screeners, medical records keepers, and fund development volunteers who joyfully give more than 50,000 hours of service annually at the clinic to ensure its success. These volunteers are passionate about the work they are able to accomplish at VIM and grateful for the chance to make a meaningful impact on someone else’s life. Whether they give of their time weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or just while vacationing on the island, VIM quickly evolves into what is truly a volunteer’s home away from home, a distinct highlight of life here on Hilton Head.
In the words of Dr. Jack, “May we have eyes to see those who are rendered invisible and excluded, open arms and hearts to reach out and include them, healing hands to touch their lives with love and in the process heal ourselves.” This is the Circle of Caring at VIM, a place where oftentimes the giver receives so much more joy and satisfaction in return than even the recipient of the care.
So you see? There is life after retirement…when you make the move to Hilton Head Island, make an impact and join the ranks of the VIM faithful.
Charter One Realty is proud to be a presenting sponsor of the 2016 VIM Pro-Am Clinic Classic Golf Tournament on March 7th, 2016. Celebrating its 22nd year, the Pro-Am Golf Tournament has always provided a high quality golf experience at one of the Lowcountry’s finest golf courses. This year, the VIM Pro-Am will be held at the Belfair Golf Club. For more information on the Pro-Am Golf Tournament, please call 843-689-6612.