In 1986, Richard Barbaro, DDS, Don DeCort, Attorney at Law, and Skip Whitman, MD, approached Catholic Social Ministries (CSM) of the Diocese of Raleigh and expressed desire to use their talents to help serve the poor. They suggested setting up a free medical clinic. Concurrently, Charles Hoffman, MD, had also spoken with CSM about the need for a clinic for pregnant women.
Dorothy Ann Pyle, MSW, Director of CSM, convened a group of interested people for this project. About twenty individuals attended and the main speaker was Ann Sales, FNP, Coordinator of the Open Door Clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina. All participants were very enthusiastic about the concept of a free clinic. The next important step was to assess the needs of the county, to identify current resources for the poor, and to go on a site visit of the Open Door Clinic.
In the course of a year and a half, members of the project gathered information from key personnel at the Cumberland County Health Department, local emergency rooms, and other private physicians. Progress increased from 1989 to 1990 when Mary Ann Lise, RN, volunteered to coordinate the needs assessment. She compiled reports and statistics from research studies regarding the needs of the poor in Eastern North Carolina. The preliminary result of this assessment identified the strong need for a free medical clinic in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.
The project was too extensive, however, without a full time person to coordinate it. In 1991, Dorothy Ann Pyle suggested to Kathleen Walsh, Executive Director of the Diocesan Catholic Social Ministries, to ask the Daughters of Charity (a Catholic religious community whose charisma is to serve the poor) if they had a Sister available to develop this project.
In September 1992, the Daughters of Charity sent Sister Jean Rhoads, MHSA, as a volunteer to Fayetteville to establish a free health clinic. Utilizing a $10,000 operational grant from CSM, Sister Jean organized a steering committee including C.T. Daniel, MD, Tinsley Rucker, MD, Richard Barbaro, DDS, Carl Creech, RPh, other health care and business professionals, directors of local social agencies, and clergy. This committee worked diligently to select a name and logo; identify a site; write articles of incorporation and by-laws; recruit potential volunteers; prepare grant applications for start-up funding; and increase community awareness through publication of a newsletter entitled The Samaritan.
The CARE Clinic became officially incorporated on June 17, 1993, and remained under the auspice of CSM until it received independent tax-exempt status on August 22, 1994. Through several grant awards and a capital campaign effort chaired by Marshall H. Waren, a building at 239 Robeson Street was renovated. The clinic was dedicated on November 14, 1993 and opened its doors for service to uninsured, low income residents of Cumberland County on November 16, 1993.