Food pantry, free clinic on the move

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Margaret Plevak | February 5, 2015

ELKHORN--A former Aurora medical clinic will now provide space for a food pantry and a free community clinic.

Half of the 12,000-square-foot facility at 205 E. Commerce Court in Elkhorn already is home to the W.C. Food Pantry, which opened January 3.

Jim Drescher, W.C. Food Pantry's director, said the pantry's former location on County Highway H in Lake Geneva served the organization well since 2009, but space was becoming a problem as more people used its facilities. Drescher said the pantry serves about 600 families monthly. With the move, the panty has tripled its size. The new one-story space replaces the former two-story location, which was hard on volunteers transporting goods up and down stairs, he said.           

Drescher said the added space will also allow the pantry to open a thrift store later this winter, to be stocked with clothing, toys, books, and small household items such as lamps.

The W.C. Food Pantry has kept its current schedule, open Wednesdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The building at 205 E. Commerce Court is currently owned by Greg Kunes, who is leasing the space to both the W.C. Food Pantry and the Open Arms Free Clinic.

Sara Nichols, clinic manager, said an April 1 opening date is planned for Open Arms at its new Commerce Court location. The clinic is currently at 797 E. Geneva St. in Elkhorn, where services will remain until the move.

Open Arms Free Clinic serves uninsured and low-income residents of Walworth County. It has an all-volunteer staff of medical doctors, nurses, counselors, pharmacists, and pharmacy assistants. Since it opened  late in 2012, the clinic has treated over 800 patients, with medical services that include lab and medication.

Nichols said the new site is centrally located in the county and conveniently just off Interstate 43.

Open Arms will also increase its size from 1,800 to 6,000 square feet. The extra space will let the clinic expand its services to include dental and vision as well as medical, Nichols said.

"We have seen the critical need for dental care," she said. "With no other free or charity care providers in the county, Open Arms has pursued to fill this gap." Dental services are planned to start in April 2015.  

OAFC services are free to qualifying patients. Patient enrollment at the clinic is Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p. m., and medicine pickups are Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. OAFC services are free to qualifying patents. New patients must bring a photo ID, mail with name and address, proof of income (pay stubs for all in the household and tax return records). No appointments are needed for registration.

Nichols said the clinic is hosting two fundraisers this month at Timber Ridge on Sunday, Feb. 8 and a fish fry at St. Benedict's Catholic Church on Friday, Feb. 20. For more details, check the clinic's website at openarmsfreeclinic.org.

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