May 4 event to benefit Ohio Valley Health Center

WARDROBE! — In a playful photo moment, Kyle Brown hams for the camera in his Aladdin-style turban with some adjustment help from his wife, Sheila, left, and Trudy Wilson, executive director of the Ohio Valley Health Center in Steubenville. The Browns are serving as co-chairs of the health center’s “Arabian Nights” gala set for May 4 at the Steubenville Country Club. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — A playful Kyle Brown adjusts a gold Aladdin-style turban on his head in an animated gesture appreciated by his wife, Sheila, and Trudy Wilson, executive director of the Ohio Valley Health Center.

“Arabian Nights” is the theme of the center’s gala set for May 4 at the Steubenville Country Club, and the Browns as co-chairs plan to dress the part. Ditto for Wilson.

Anyone attending the event is welcome to follow suit with acknowledgments for the best dressed themed costume for men and women.

“There’s a theme every year, and we try to encourage people to participate in the theme, and I guess I can’t encourage others if I’m not willing to make a fool of myself,” Kyle said jokingly.

But beyond the opportunity for imaginative, festive attire, the fundraiser has a serious purpose, raising money to help the nonprofit provide health care to the uninsured and underinsured individuals and families in the Ohio Valley, regardless of their ability to pay.

The gala begins at 5 p.m. with champagne and hors d’eouvres, followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 each with April 24 as the RSVP. For information, call (740) 283-2856. The center’s website is www.ovhealthcenter.org.

The evening will include a brief program, onsite fundraisers, entertainment and recognition.

“This year we are going to recognize the people who helped bring our new health center to life, so we’re going to recognize the donors and the construction people and the people who really helped get us to this point,” Wilson said.

The Ohio Valley Health Center began seeing patients in January in its new location downtown at 423 South St. in what formerly housed the Neighborhood House Daycare and Preschool. On March 29, it was the site of an open house.

Wilson described the Browns’ role as event co-chairs as being gala hosts and advocates for the health center.

“Kyle has been an Ohio Valley Health Center board member for two years and has worked tirelessly to support the health center,” Wilson said. “He was instrumental in helping us obtain a grant through the Steubenville Electrical LMCC for $40,000 for our building renovation. The day we moved into our new facility, Kyle was here helping us load and unload. This kind of commitment to OVHC is what allows the health center to move forward in providing services to the uninsured and underinsured patients in the Ohio Valley. He is passionate about OVHC’s mission. Both he and Sheila are examples of commitment to others and helping those in need,” Wilson said.

The gala will be the third time for the Browns to attend. Married for 28 years, they are residents of Toronto. Kyle is business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 246. A New Jersy native, Sheila is a substitute teacher. The two met when Kyle was working on the American Express building in New York City.

“That’s how I ended up here 30 years ago,” she said.

“I am an electrician by trade, business manager for the electrical workers, and we try to stay active in the community, and we just really fell in love with what the health center provides,” Kyle said.

“I think as a blue collar worker you realize that many of us are just one bad health event or one bad employment event from needing health care and so we count on our employers so much, and that’s a wonderful thing, but if you’re my age, that can change in a minute. I really appreciate what Trudy does in leading the health center and what all the volunteers do, especially the medical providers who take their expertise and time out of their lives to come out and take care of the people of the area,” Kyle said.

What makes them happy to be a part of the health center undertaking?

“We just like being with each other,” Sheila said.

The Browns said the gala is for anyone looking to have an enjoyable evening out and help a worthy cause.

“The idea is to raise money for the health center,” Kyle said. “We don’t have a lot of government grants. We have to pay the people who work here, and it’s important to properly fund it, and like any 501c, it’s a struggle to raise money in this area, so we work hard to do that and encourage anyone who cares about the people we care about to participate and come out for a fun time,” he said.

“This is a semi-formal event where attendees may dress in event-themed clothes or wear regular semi-formal attire,” Wilson said. “We will have some original entertainment this year at the gala, and the live auction this year is a destination theme, comprised mostly of places to visit or to vacation,” Wilson explained.

“I am so fortunate and blessed to have Betty Ferron chair the auction committee again this year. Her contributions in putting the auctions together help the center raise a great deal of money to support uninsured patient care. Many people on the auction committee have served for multiple years. I so appreciate their help in putting all the details together so everyone can enjoy the auctions.”

Wilson hinted that the Chinese auction items will be “bigger and better this year” and the “Restaurant Tree” will be another attraction.

“I’m so grateful that I’m married to an event coordinator who takes things over the top in both gala themes and event decor,” Wilson said, “John, with help from both of our adult children, Victoria and Hunter, take care of all the event details. I’m just the voice of the health center. When it comes to the gala, they make things happen,” said a grateful Wilson.

Since its inception in 2006, the Ohio Valley Health Center has provided free services in more than 19,500 patient visits and dispensed more than $6.5 million in free medications to its patients, according to Wilson who noted that, last year alone, the center dispensed more than $600,000 in free medications.

The center is working to expand its onsite pharmacy services into a community charitable pharmacy, where low-income patients of other providers may be able to get their prescriptions filled, Wilson said.

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