Original title: Warner Robins nurse practitioner calls on volunteers to provide medical care to homeless, uninsured
The work of Hands of Grace, founded in 2017, has become even more critical in a time of COVID-19. Now it's busier than ever.
It was one of the hottest days of the summer, a summer where food scarcity was high as a pandemic raged through communities across the country.
And here was Jaimi Norrell, trying to figure out how to pass out 2,400 gallons of donated milk for those in need in middle Georgia.
"We were basically knocking on doors, seeing who needed this milk," says Jaimi, founder and executive director of Hands of Grace, a non-profit organization that provides free medical, dental, and personal care services to the uninsured and homeless population. "We gathered up all the help we could to get the milk the right hands before it spoiled."
The work of Hands of Grace, founded in 2017, has become even more critical in a time of COVID-19. The organization, supported solely by volunteers and donations, took a few weeks to regroup and put protocols in place to keep people safe. Now, it is busier than ever, although they've had to scale down the number of people they can see at a time in the Warner Robins clinic.
The group's work with the homeless was generally uninterrupted because most of it takes place outside, Jaimi says.
"The need isn't going away," says Jaimi, who operates Hands of Grace with two other nurse practitioners, nurses, non-medical staff, a volunteer dentist, optometrist, and chiropractor. "People are still homeless and still need us, so we take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe."
At any given time, about 30 volunteers keep everything moving with Hands of Grace. They coordinate medical and dental care, provide meals, clothing, hygiene kits and even haircuts. In 3 years the organization has helped over 5,700 people.
"A haircut is such a simple thing, yet it makes such a difference to someone's self-esteem," Jaimi says. "I'll take a picture to show someone what they look like now because some people haven't even seen themselves in months."
Next up for Hands of Grace is to convert a donated bus into a mobile clinic. "When it's cold it's hard to get people to come out and get medical care, even when we come to them," she says.
Jaimi, a volunteer herself with Hands of Grace, says she'd also love to see the program grow to support medical professionals as employees. As it is, she calls Hands of Grace her "third full-time job," as she balances it with the support of her husband Kevin while both work full-time and care for their six children.
"But I can't imagine not doing this. It is so needed in our community."
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