HAZARD — A celebration was held at the Little Flower Clinic on Thursday for the grand opening of their new facility on Memorial Drive.
The Little Flower Clinic was the idea of some good Samaritans, and has come a long way from its beginnings in the basement of the Mother of Good Council Catholic Church. The idea was to help the community by opening a free clinic. In 2001 the clinic opened its doors with 12 volunteers and only two patients, according to Pat Riestenberg, but it wasn’t long before the health care providers there were seeing a much bigger flow of patients.
“Within a couple months we had people lined out the door, down the driveway and into the parking lot, and we began to see how great the need really was,” said Riestenberg.
Shortly after these humble beginnings, the lines of people at the clinic gave the volunteers reason to believe they were on to something and needed to expand. In 2004 the Little Flower Clinic moved into a store front on North Main Street.
From 2009 to 2010 fundraising efforts went into high gear to collect funds to build a new office for the clinic. The clinic officially moved into and opened its new location this year.
The grand opening was well attended by members of the community, people involved in the clinic, and local politicians. State Senator Brandon Smith said that the success of the clinic came from the hard work of supportive people before governmental involvement.
“This is one of those perfect examples,” said Smith. “This is not a government program. This is not something that we sold you on. This is something that a church got involved with and saw a need, and the community rallied around it. Then we saw a doctor get involved and we saw government come in later.”
The latest step of opening this new facility is just another way that the clinic can better serve the community.
“We are really excited to have this facility and be able to provide better services to the clientele that utilize the Little Flower Clinic,” said Frank Medaris, the board chairman.
The name Little Flower exemplifies their mission. It is named for Saint Therese, who became known as the Little Flower.
“She had great ideas and she wanted to do great things for God, but when she was young, in her early to mid-20s, she got leukemia and wasn’t able to do the great missionary work that she wanted to be able to do,” said Riestenberg.
After being afflicted with this news, she knew she could still do something to honor her God and help her community.
“She decided that she would do little things the best way that she could,” Riestenberg continued.
It was this idea that the Little Flower Clinic was founded on.
“We can do little things. We can help one person, we can help the person at our door,” said Riestenberg. “Before she died she said she would send flowers from Heaven to continue just doing little things to help the people on earth.”
Using Saint Therese as a model, the Little Flower Clinic has continued to do whatever they could to help without taking on more than they can handle too early. With the help of the new facility, they will be able to do even more.
“It has been a long road and it has been worth every minute,” added Gerry Roll, with the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. “That is what we do in Perry County. That is why we have so many successful things. It starts at the ground and somebody says let’s just do it, and then we work it.”
At the grand opening event, officials with the Little Flower Clinic were also presented with a check for $10,000 from the Annual Christmas for Charity event.