This week, we are kicking off the WAAY 31 Days to Give. WAAY 31, Toyota Motor North Alabama and the Rocket City Trash Pandas are raising money for three non-profit groups. The groups have faced major challenges during the ongoing pandemic. Friday night, we are focusing on the organization, HEALS. It provides school-based medical, dental and optometry care at local schools to children in need.
Marta Torres' children have been receiving services from HEALS, Inc. for about five years. Because of HEALS, all five of her children have access to the health care services they need at no cost.
"The staff is the best in caring. Since English is my second language, we feel very comfortable visiting the clinic," she said.
HEALS, Inc. is a non-profit organization in Huntsville dedicated to providing free school-based primary health care for low-income children through collaborative efforts with the Huntsville City and Madison County school systems and the medical community. By providing on-site medical and dental care, mental health counseling, optometry and social services at local schools, HEALS makes an immediate difference in the lives of children in need.
"The reality is without the HEALS being present on site here at the schools, some of our children would be facing some very serious challenges," lead nurse Cathy Nall said.
The organization’s executive director said HEALS has been impacted significantly by the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, the nonprofit only has two clinics open for Huntsville City Schools students and one for Madison County Schools students. That's compared to four medical and three dental clinics the organization had prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Due to coronavirus guidelines, the nonprofit couldn't provide routine dental care to children in need March through May. But through our WAAY 31 Days to Give, you can donate and help children right here in our community get the care they need.
Torres says she doesn't know what her family would have done without HEALS.
"Thanks to HEALS, we have a home away from home," Torres said.
"A quiet and a gentle place where patients can come here and get the help they need,” Nall said.
HEALS was founded in 1998 and has provided free health care to more than 15,000 children in our community. If you would like to donate to HEALS, click here.