BY BY ABIGAIL ABBOTT – OASIS FREE CLINICS BOARD OF DIRECTORS
I was born in Brunswick, went through the town’s public school system, attended Bowdoin College, and am now raising my three children here. I love this town.
Growing up, neighborhood friends of my parents acted and felt like aunts and uncles. My classmates’ moms and dads would bring over lasagna dinners if someone in the family was sick. Community members frequently volunteered in my school. Brunswick was a community where people knew and took care of each other. It was a wonderful place to grow up, and the best of what small town living is.
But one feature of the area I did not appreciate fully until I grew older, is the civic-minded nature of the town. In Brunswick, people don’t just care for their immediate friends and neighbors. They also invest in the health and success of the town as a whole. The Oasis Free Clinics embody this spirit of Brunswick.
When I moved back to Brunswick after a brief period away, I began volunteering with Oasis and eventually joined its board. To my delight, I discovered people from my childhood who were already involved in the organization. Dr. Walter Higgins, my childhood dentist, served on the board of directors of Oasis. My friend’s father, Dr. Rick Elsaesser, was Oasis’ dental director.
The more I learned about Oasis, the more I appreciated what a gift Oasis is to Brunswick, and the immense value Oasis brings to this area. Oasis provides no-cost medical, dental, mental health, and prescription assistance services to people living in the towns of Freeport, Brunswick, Harpswell and the Islands, Durham, and all of Sagadahoc County. People who otherwise would have limited to no health care services have a place to receive high quality, compassionate and personalized care.
Volunteering with Oasis, I also gained an appreciation for the immense generosity of the inhabitants in this part of Maine. The people of this area regularly volunteer in our medical and dental clinics, open their personal gardens to be on our summer garden tour fundraisers, share their cooking expertise on our virtual cooking class charity events, and donate their money generously. Oasis is the largest free health clinic in the state. Its scale reflects the value this community places on providing health care to everyone, not just in theory but in practice. It is through the generosity of the people in this area that Oasis is able to make available the exceptional care it provides, and in return, Oasis makes this wonderful small town stronger.
Oasis welcomes and supports not just its established residents, but also those who are new to this area and in need of support. When this community welcomed hundreds of asylum seekers and housed them in hotels in Freeport starting in early 2022, Oasis was there to provide medical and dental care. Oasis has seen over 125 patients and provided over 600 visits since we welcomed our newest neighbors to our community. It was the civic minded nature of the people in this area that allowed Oasis to do this.
Even as a child, I sensed this was a great town, and now, having spent most of my life here, I feel even more strongly that this is a unique place. Oasis is fortunate to be located here and benefit from the generous, engaged, and thoughtful people who live here. And this community — those who use our services and those who don’t- those who are new to this area and those who have been here their whole lives — is stronger because of Oasis.
The Oasis Free Clinics is a nonprofit, no-cost primary care medical practice and dental clinic, providing patient-centered care to uninsured members of our community. For more information, call (207) 721-9277 or visit OasisFreeClinics.org.
Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local nonprofit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.