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Bend’s Volunteers in Medicine Hits Milestone


Volunteers in Medicine is a nonprofit in Bend that helps Central Oregonians who don’t have insurance. The facility cannot function without their volunteer staff, and Wednesday they said they will be honoring several of their volunteers who have reached 500 hours of service or more.

After Tom Barber retired from his job as a music teacher, he started putting in hours at a new job at the Bend VIM Clinic. He says he was inspired after his son was helped during a tough time.

“He had a job, but he didn’t make enough money to buy insurance — and that’s what this place is for,” Barber said Wednesday. “They got him in here and took care of his back, and they did a great job. He’s way better off for it, and he’s gone back to college now.”

In three years, Barber’s reached 500 volunteer hours. And he will be honored along with 11 other volunteers at a ceremony Friday night. He screens new patients, makes sure they’re eligible for services, and schedules appointments.

“Especially new people are pretty excited,” said Barber. “They need help. And it’s really hard to turn people down, for whatever reason it may be.”

The clinic provides everything from eye care, to medication, to check-ups, and 450 people volunteer their time and effort to make it all happen. Some are retired doctors, while others help with whatever is needed.

Volunteers say it’s the relief new patients feel that makes them keep working hard.

“We keep a box of Kleenex by the window, because so many times, this has been such a burden,” said Executive Director Kat Mastrangelo. “And they find out they’re going to be able to get the health care they need, and the medications they need, and it’s all going to be provided by the volunteers pro bono — and they’re overwhelmed.”

The clinic helps about 1,500 Central Oregonians. Barber said it’s the thanks he gets that keeps him coming back.

“I think most people are very thankful,” said Barber. “And the people that come in and get re-screened, they’re pretty thankful. I don’t think they ever go away without saying thanks.”

To find out if you qualify for the free medical services, you can visit the clinic’s Website at

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