Love Letter To Fan Free Clinic, Pt. 1
Read More: Fan Free Clinic
Editor’s Note: Fan Free Clinic was Virginia’s first free clinic. Shawn McNulty, Director of Health Outreach at Fan Free Clinic, reflects on over a decade of service to the organization in this series of articles.
Fan Free Clinic has represented to me so much more than just a job. It has been and is a place of great magic and spirit. It is one of the greatest, most awe inspiring places one can imagine.
Well, perhaps, more for those of us moved by social justice causes who dream of making the world a better place. I belie my idealism, but the truth is Fan Free Clinic is quite idyllic. I don’t mean to imply that there are not struggles – of course there are. This is after all the world of non-profit. There is always fundraising to do, grant writing to do, quality assurance work, people to serve…far too many people to serve.
Most of us will have to work at some point in our lives. I have had the blessed fortune to have spent the last one-third of my life working for a place that stands for the kind of service to humanity to which I always hope to lend my strength. From its medical care, to its case management, to (my own personal favorite) health outreach, Fan Free Clinic is the kind of place where I have never felt like I merely punched a clock. There are many days I am exhausted, overwrought and sometimes emotionally drained, but I never feel like my time was wasted, my efforts not worth it. I have always felt like there could be more of me to go around, since there is never any end to the work that must be done.
I am coming to the end of my tenure at Fan Free Clinic and June 30, 2012 will be my last day. I know that seems rather far off, and close friends have asked me why I have chosen to give so much notice.
I admit, it’s rather selfish of me. I want a long goodbye, partly because I am a fan of Cher and I have seen how well it works for her, but partly because I wanted the chance to comment on the amazing journey to which I have been privileged. It has been a unique and life-altering journey working for Fan Free Clinic. I have sat in rooms and told people things that have changed their lives forever. I have had to face down my fears and fight for causes dear to me. I have had to find the activist in me, the collaborator in me, the sociologist, the counselor, the leader in me. The person I was at 24 when first I came to work for Fan Free Clinic is not the person I am today, at 36. I have grown so much.
For the next six months, GayRVA has been kind enough to submit a column of love letters to the place that has come to represent so much of who I am and who I want to be and introduce you to the people who have made this journey so worthwhile. People who are making a difference to the lives of Richmonders every day.
Shawn Patrick McNulty, Director of Health Outreach for Fan Free Clinic, has worked in HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention for more than twelve years. Born in Hampton, Virginia in 1975, Shawn ventured to Richmond in 1993 to come to VCU. After a service learning course he took on campus in 1994, he dreamed that one day he might have the opportunity to work for a place as amazing as Fan Free Clinic. More than twelve years since that dream became a reality Shawn has determined that it is time to move on, but not without first paying homage to the place that has been his “home away from home,” for so long.
“We are marching forward, leaning in, charging forward because we take seriously the importance of helping people restore their health”June 24, 2016
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