By Rich Arenschieldt
Legacy Community Health, a fixture on Houston’s healthcare landscape since 1978, is in the midst of its latest expansion, fueled by a $15 million “Building Healthy Families” capital campaign. This project will benefit two of Legacy’s underserved target populations: those living in Houston’s Fifth Ward, and the rapidly growing number of uninsured individuals in southwest Houston. Having operated clinics in both of these areas for years, Legacy, a Federally Qualified Heath Center, has a history of providing primary care to this community.
Throughout its history, Legacy has launched a number of capital campaigns, each with the same goal: to pursue a major expansion in services. The current endeavor is no different. “The amount of the capital campaign was dictated by the need,” says Chree Boydstun, Legacy’s chief development officer. “Since Legacy’s philosophy is to ‘meet the needs of the communities it serves,’ as those needs grow, we expand. We came up with a budget, looked at feasibility, and determined the community need and support for the project.” After examining all those aspects, and drawing on their experience in each area, Legacy determined that there were crucial unmet needs that could be addressed with new, freestanding heath centers.
“The Cullen Trust for Heath Care provided seed money for this campaign,” says Boydstun. “That $2 million donation will help us build two clinics as part of a comprehensive campaign.” Houston’s major foundations have all stepped up; in addition to Cullen, Houston Endowment and the Brown Foundation are providing major gifts to the campaign.
“Legacy has had a significant presence in these neighborhoods for quite some time,” says Tripp Carter, campaign co-chair. “We began seeing patients in the Fifth Ward in 2006, and in southwest Houston in 2010. Both facilities are literally bursting at the seams, and each has undergone numerous renovations to attempt to meet the needs of the surrounding community. This capital campaign will enable Legacy to enlarge and centralize services in both locations.”
Legacy’s investment in the Fifth Ward coincides with a plan to revitalize the entire area. “It has been wonderful to be a part of the current redevelopment plan,” Carter says. “Legacy has worked with a variety of stakeholders—clergy, local leaders, and politicians—to develop a ‘Super Neighborhood’ plan. It’s exciting to see not only us, but various other institutions taking part. As a result of several town-hall meetings [and other gatherings], the entire community has been deeply involved in the process, with each of us collaborating to realize a common goal.”
In southwest Houston, Legacy is closely connected to the community via its involvement in family primary medical care, literacy training, and OB/GYN services. “We provide pre- and postnatal care for 300 mothers a month,” Boydstun says. “When an expectant mother comes to us, we are able to offer her a variety of services focusing not only on her medical needs, but also assisting her with tools to cope with having a new baby in the household.”
Legacy has been leasing its Fifth Ward clinic space from the City of Houston. “The city has decided to sell the property,” Boydstun says. “Legacy saw this as an opportunity to explore other options [for building] which allowed us to expand and centralize our services. This has also enabled us to be one of the ‘anchor tenants’ in the area’s redevelopment plan.”
“We have a number of major campaign requests outstanding,” Carter says. “In 2017 we will continue to approach corporations and individuals. Our board of directors has given generously, and we hope that this will inspire others. At this point, we have raised almost half of the needed funds. In spite of some challenges within the local economy, the campaign is progressing.
“Houstonians are known for their generosity; we have a reputation as the most philanthropic city in the nation. When a profound need arises, Houstonians rally.”
Rich Arenschieldt is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.