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Hearts and Hands marks opening to community
GSU student: Clinic is 'American Dream'
Georgia Southern University student Andres Montes thanks all of the contributors to the Hearts and Hands Clinic during Monday's ribbon cutting at ceremony at the Son's Light Fellowship Baptist Church. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

 Hearts and Hands
      To make an appointment at the clinic, or to donate or volunteer, call (912) 681-9519, (770) 833-8571 or (912) 344-8463. You can also go to The-Hearts-and-Hands-Clinic on Facebook, or to their website at Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to The Hearts and Hands Clinic, Inc., P.O. Box 224, Statesboro, GA 30459.

      The third phase of a dream that began two years ago has come to fruition. An idea pushed passionately by a young and ambitious Georgia Southern University student, paired with the support and dedication from the community, resulted in the opening of a dental, health and vision clinic for Bulloch County's less fortunate.
      Hearts and Hands Clinic now offers health medical services in addition to dental and vision. The clinic held its ribbon cutting Monday at what is known by some long-time citizens as " the Old Biltmore Motel," now home to Son's Light Fellowship Baptist Church and other endeavors, on U.S. 301 South near Gateway Industrial Park.
      Local business leaders, dignitaries, volunteers and other guests gathered Monday afternoon for the event. Andres Montes, the founder of Hearts and Hands, and its chairman and CEO, was visibly ecstatic as he greeted others with a wide smile.
      "I'm incredibly excited. It hasn't yet sunk in," he said. "I'm incredibly humbled by the turnout of citizens, the community, people from Ogeechee Tech, Georgia Southern, Congressman John Barrow and so many others. I can't believe today is here - it's incredible."
      The opening of the health clinic is the final step, he said. And already people are lined up to take advantage of the income-adjusted program for those without private insurance.
      The dental clinic has a four to five month backlog. The medical clinic already has a backlog of three to four months, and vision patients may wait as long as two months for an appointment, he said.
      Bob Bigley, CEO of East Georgia Regional Medical Center, was on hand to celebrate the clinic's grand opening.
      "I am delighted they've been able to pull it off," he said. "We are glad to do what we can to support it and hope they can identify appropriate people to reach out to. It is certainly a wonderful service and I am glad they are able to start providing that."
      DeWayne Grice, who has been a strong supporter of the clinic as well as a volunteer, welcomed the group and introduced several speakers.
      "I'd like to welcome you today to a day, two years ago, we thought would never get here," he said.
Son's Light Baptist Church Pastor John Long spoke as well. His church has been a tremendous force behind the clinic, Grice said.
      The clinic "blesses me and I know that our Lord Savior appreciates that," he said. "I hope that all the young people who come through Georgia Southern (University) have the drive and integrity that Andre (Montes) has."
      Congressman Barrow also spoke briefly, offering congratulations and support. "If there is anything our Lord wants us to do, it is care for the poor and help heal the sick."
      Georgia Southern University President Dr. Brooks Keel commented on how people in the South "seem to care about others more."
      He also praised Montes. "I think Andre has taken ‘service learning' and put it on steroids" with the Hearts and Hands Clinic, he added.
      Others involved with the project spoke as well. Ogeechee Technical College President Dawn Cartee said she was proud of her staff, faculty and students for helping to "make this vision a reality" and offered future help. "If we don't have it, we'll figure out a way to make it work," she promised.
      Bulloch County Commission chairman Garrett Nevil welcomed guests and said "on the behalf of Bulloch County, I just want to say thank you. This clinic certainly is a needed service, and we're grateful for that."
Montes beamed as he spoke next, thanking and giving credit to his parents and to the community as a whole for the help and support.
       "This has shown what I always hoped Hearts and Hands would bring - unity," he said. "I believe the clinic is an example of the American Dream."
      For more information on the Hearts and Hands Clinic or to make an appointment, call (912) 681-9519 or (912) 344-8463.

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