During this pandemic, the Atlanta community, along with countless other communities around the world, have seen several uplifting non-profit organizations step forward to help ensure that those in need of assistance know where to turn to have their needs met. Amongst these organizations is ICNA Relief’s Shifa Clinic Athens.
With a mission to provide free healthcare services to the under-insured in Athens, Shifa Clinic has been offering its services since 2017. Founded by a group of students at the University of Georgia, the clinic is one of the few in the country entirely run and operated by undergraduate students. Over the course of the past three years, the non-profit has provided about $140,000 worth of healthcare services, and in recent weeks, has been able to expand upon its operations.
The clinic continues to see patients virtually, as local doctors support the clinic and offer their services on a weekly basis, and has also partnered with the Georgia Department of Health to provide free tele-screening for COVID-19 testing through both Spanish and English hotlines. In recent months, Shifa Clinic has seen several organizations rally around them, an uplifting feat for the student-run organization that has struggled to branch out in the past.
In March, the clinic’s volunteers came together to establish a now, permanent food pantry service through their creation of food bags to distribute non-perishable groceries and produce to those of over the age of 65, of low income, or who are immunocompromised. The non-profit establishment has also continued its distribution of “Emergency Backpacks”, in partnership with The Backpack Project, to low-income residents, offering hygiene kits, warm clothes, and snacks.
Since early May, Shifa Clinic’s volunteers have been rapidly and efficiently organizing each day’s food pantry and Emergency Backpacks handouts, and their efforts have helped them reach even larger numbers than they have in the past. Last Saturday, with the help of organizations such as Feed the Frontlines GA and the Athens Bagel Company, volunteers were able to distribute 65 hot meals to the surrounding homeless population and are continuing to do so on a weekly basis. In addition, with the assistance of Period at UGA and Period. Inc, the clinic was able to provide 450 sanitary pads for 30 women last on the same day, and will continue this distribution over the course of the upcoming weeks.
Most recently, the clinic was awarded the Junior League of Athens Community Impact Grant and will be using the money to establish the infrastructure to make their food pantry a permanent service
As ICNA Relief is using its own funding to keep the foodbanks for the clinic stocked, supplies are limited, and readers can offer their support here. Hours for the Shifa Clinic Athen's weekly services and food distribution can be accessed on the clinic’s Facebook page here, and they can be reached at: 706-850-4588
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