November 21, 2001

Local Holiday Drive Benefits Local Families

4th Annual Turkey, Toys and Other Joys Event Raises Funds for Unfunded Patient Healthcare

Escondido, CA — The Escondido Community Health Center kicks off the holiday season on December 6th with a special event designed to raise enough money to provide healthcare for more than 800 patients without health insurance. Dozens of beautiful wreaths donated by celebrities will be the main event at the auction and dinner.

Holiday wreaths donated by celebrities such as Escondido Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler will help raise money for unfounded patient care during Escondido Community Health Center’s Turkey, Toys and Other Joys fundraising event, Dec. 6, 2001.

According to Tracy Ream, executive director of ECHC, which operates six community health centers in North County, "This year more than 20 wreaths donated by celebrities such as Bob Hope, George Bush, Sr., Denzell Washington, Tom Hanks, Ray Charles, and Roma Downey, are up for auction. Other auction items include unique holiday decorations and gifts such as children's toys. Our goal is to raise $50,000 this holiday season." A $15 donation to ECHC is the ticket to this fun event; the community is invited to attend.

Ms. Ream explained, "It's crucial that we raise as much money as possible to help care for the uninsured. Even during our booming economy, 85% of working families were uninsured. As we slip into a recession, more people without health insurance are coming to our health centers for care. As the population ages, we are seeing an increasing number of seniors, too. Couple this with overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms, and less primary care doctors available, and our community clinics become the key access point for the community' primary healthcare."

Although ECHC has provided primary health care to the Greater Escondido community for more than 30 years, it was only four years ago that an annual fundraising effort began so the organization could assure healthcare services for those most in need. What started as an intimate way to educate community leaders and philanthropists about the important healthcare services provided by the non-profit ECHC, has grown into an indispensable way for ECHC to provide services to those unable to pay for their own health care.

The event has grown in popularity. The first year, 1998, Turkey, Toys was an intimate wine and cheese event where 27 supporters raised $9,000. The second year, it grew to a traditional holiday dinner party with all the trimmings, where 80 people attending raised over $14,000 through the celebrity holiday wreath auction.

Last year over $40,000 was raised through the celebrity wreath auction. The finishing touch, ECHC artistic volunteers Rita Hofmann and Kathleen McKegney transformed the hall and dining tables into a holiday wonderland. This year, Dr. Nicholas Yphantides, ECHC's former medical director, is the event's host and auctioneer.

For additional information about attending Escondido Community Health Center's Turkey, Toys and Other Joys fundraising event at the Hilton Doubletree Golf Resort in Poway, or to make a tax deductible donation to the non-profit healthcare organization, contact the ECHC Development office at 760-737-2030.

The mission of Escondido Community Health Center is to provide quality healthcare and wellness promotion to all members of our community, focusing on those most in need, ECHC employs 180 staff members including physicians, nurse practitioners, dentists, medical and dental support staff, in community programs and clinical services. Over 28,000 patients in over $85,000 visits received a wide variety of healthcare services in 2000.

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