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Art in the City returns to Mechanics Hall to benefit Family Health Center

At Family Health Center, Amy Walsh, left, and Heather Olson create protective envelopes for art work that has been donated for the Art in the City fundraising auction. Chris Christo Photo

What began as images of local flowers dressing up blank, institutional walls but later blossomed into a major arts event for Worcester? That would be Art in the City, an evening of art and entertainment to benefit Family Health Center, the Lois B. Green Health Center, and Family Health Center — Southbridge, which has grown into a must-go-to annual event for many in the area.

This year, the Art in the City gala will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. May 13 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. The event features a wide selection of original artwork by dozens of local artists that will appeal to avid collectors as well as those who are new to the arts.

All proceeds go to support comprehensive health, dental, vision and social services for low-income and uninsured patients. We asked Family Health Center CEO Frances Anthes and the organization’s vice president of development/advancement, Noreen Johnson Smith, to talk about Art in the City and what it has come to mean to one of the city’s most respected health agencies.

Q: How important is this annual event to Family Health Center?

Frances Anthes: This is one time each year when our work at Family Health Center is on display for the whole community through an artistic medium.

Noreen Smith: Art in the City is Family Health Center of Worcester’s annual fundraiser that brings together friends of the health center, supporters, donors, staff and business partners to celebrate the arts and raise money to support health services for culturally diverse families throughout Worcester and South Worcester County. Artists from all over the region donate their original art work to the health center, and we place these lovely works of art on the auction block to benefit health services. Many artists have donated year after year of their time and talent to make this annual event possible. We couldn’t do it without the support of so many in this community who believe in the work of Family Health Center.

Q: How much do you hope to raise this year and what will it be mainly used for?

Noreen Smith: We hope to raise $80,000, which will go directly into critical health services for uninsured and underinsured, low-income families at our Worcester and Southbridge locations. Art in the City is about doing good in our own neighborhoods, improving the health of local families. The funds raised will help to provide prenatal care to assure healthy babies for the 1,200 pregnant women who receive care from our health center each year; and to provide dental care for low income senior citizens who cannot afford dentures and other dental treatments; and to provide digital mammography breast cancer screenings for women who would otherwise not be able to afford this preventive health service; and to assure that substance abuse treatment for adults addicted to heroin or other opioids are available through our outpatient medically-supervised treatment program; and to provide education and oversight of patients who are prescribed pain medications to assure that these medications are used only when needed and not in doses that lead to abuse and addiction.

Q: How would you describe the center’s mission?

Frances Anthes: Our mission is to provide high quality health care to all regardless of their ability to pay. Family Health Center of Worcester is particularly committed to providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to our diverse patient population. Last year we provided services in 43 languages for over 27,000 individuals. We have been a residency teaching site since 1974, and train physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, optometrists, nurses, medical assistants, and behavioral health providers at our health center.

Q: How many years has Art in the City been running now?

Frances Anthes: This is our 18th year. We started Art in the City back in 1998 because we had a newly renovated health center and a lot of empty walls, and we wanted the health center’s walls to represent the beauty of the community in which our patients live. We started with a neighborhood artist, and told him to go out and find the flowers that bloom in our neighborhood and put them on our walls. Our concept of health is one that encompasses the whole person in the context of their family and their community to be a healthy person you have to feel good about the community in which you live.

Tickets to Art in the City are $40 per person and sponsorships also are available. To reserve tickets, call Georgianna Sgariglia at (508) 860-7951 or visit www.mechanicshall.org.


Nancy Sheehan

Worcester Telegram & Gazette