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Economic Review 2017 - Health Care

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New charity to help with medical travel on Northern Peninsula First Step charity established by Mark and Linda Wilkoff

GREAT NORTHERN PENINSULA, NL – Two St. Lunaire-Griquet residents have created a new charity to advance access to health care.

Mark and Linda Wilkoff have established First Step, a new charity that will help provide travel assistance to people living on the northern tip of the Northern Peninsula (NTNNP).

To carry out this purpose, First Step will pay part of community members’ medical travel expenses such as gasoline, meals, lodging and other expenses related to medical travel.

They say they will raise funds through a variety of events as well as through direct solicitation. Such events may include concerts, craft fairs, bake sales, athletic events, meals/coffees/teas and games.

First Step plans on setting up a special committee of interested community members to help organize and coordinate fundraising efforts.

“Medical care travel from the NTNNP is an expensive proposition (e.g. car expenses, lodging, meals, incidental costs, lost wages, et. al.),” a press release from First Step reads. “It can, and frequently does, easily exceed several thousand dollars for a single trip. Those forced to make multiple trips often must face costs of tens of thousands of dollars.

“This cost burden falls most heavily on those who can least afford it. It is not unusual to see some people from NTNNP forced to make the hard decision of whether to seek medical care or provide for their basic needs of shelter and food.”

The concept for First Step was born following a series of meetings over a couple of years with civic leaders, business people, health care providers, religious leaders and community members.

The Wilkoffs say they have created First Step pursuant to the Canadian Income Tax Act and the Charities Registration Act. It is an official Canadian registered charity and will issue official donation receipts.

The First Step Board of Directors (BoD) is composed of Kier Knudsen, Michelle Shears-Rumbolt, Hauna Sheppard, Jeffrey Warren, Brenda Whyatt and Mark Wilkoff.

“First Step is grounded in the belief that the lack of resources should never obstruct the right to access necessary medical care,” says the release. “First Step will work with businesses, civic organizations, care providers, and individuals to raise money and provide travel assistance to those in need from the NTNNP.”

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