Hundreds line up for free health services at local church

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - Between budget cuts and downsizing, thousands of people are doing without right now.

And while economic issues can't change in a day, one local church is helping hundreds.

Just call Huguenot Road Baptist Church a one-stop shop.

In a line that winds around the church, hundreds stand in the sun, waiting for their silver lining.

"There's so many people that need our help and we have the ability to do that, to help them," said organizer Kris Branch.

200 church volunteers, armed with a list of services.

"We have medical appointments, dental, vision screenings, haircuts, massages, face-painting, makeup, nail salon, family photos, spiritual counseling, grief counseling, oh I hope I haven't forgotten any of them," she said.

Guide people through the process.

"Every year it's a different combination," Branch said. "But we try to cover the major things that people can't afford to have done."

With financial woes looming for this crowd, the assurance that these handouts will make for a better tomorrow is why Tonia Gilmer patiently waits her turn.

"Being a single-parent, it always helps," she said.

The mom of three can't believe the freebies.

"Anything I can carry, I take," she said.

Or the hot meal she and her children will receive at the finish line.

"I think they're doing the will of God and that's it, and that's awesome," she said.

Because after giving up so much, she's excited the smallest find will turn her house back into a home.

"People know that times are tough and they are cutting back on their personal expenses to donate to things like this. It's just heart-warming, it really is," said Branch.

Branch says Huguenot Road Baptist Church wants nothing in return.

Just the satisfaction of opening its doors to people who walk out with new hope for the future.

This is the 5th year for the free clinic and it's grown each year.

Church members say it takes nearly a year to plan the event that runs four hours.

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