As a single, working mother, Barbara Thomas was used to making sacrifices.

The owner of a childcare service, Barbara made a career out of putting others before herself. One of these sacrifices included health insurance, a fact that culminated into a harsh reality for this Port Charlotte resident.

Although she experienced severe headaches and fatigue for some time, Barbara went without medical care because of the costs associated with doctor visits and testing. It wasn’t until a friend told her about the Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic that she sought the help she desperately needed.

After receiving a free examination and blood work at the clinic, Barbara was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. “The test results knocked my socks off.  It worried me. If I can’t pay for a doctor, how will I afford ongoing tests and medication?”

Thankfully, the Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic was able to help Barbara. Clinic physicians provided her with medication, test strips and other items she needed to test for and treat diabetes at no cost. She was referred to a diabetic specialist who taught Barbara how to manage her condition free of charge.

“My headaches are gone and I’m a different person,” says Barbara. I am back to work, have more energy, and just feel so much better. The people at the Virginia B. Andes Community Clinic saved my life. I don’t know what I would have done without them.”

Thank You!

I’d like to share a little bit of my own story.  

I moved to Port Charlotte to become a caregiver for my mom.  Prior to this I always had a full time job and insurance to cover my medical needs.  My mom had developed Alzheimer’s, COPD and diabetes.  It was really stressful 24/7 and made it impossible to hold down a full time job.  I loved my mom dearly and would make this exact choice again… but financially it eventually left me broke. 

As for other resources, I was too young for Medicare, have no children, no Medicaid and do not suffer a disability.  Eventually we had the Affordable Care act, but even this did not work for me.  I was really worried that I was not going to be able to afford the care and medications I needed. And I knew I needed to stay well to be able to care for my mom.

That is why I am so very thankful for Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic.  I was also able to get some of my medications through the hard work of the pharmacy staff that petitions drug companies directly, which is amazing (PAP.)

And I need to mention…. getting the Vitriol shot through a drug company and administered at CBHC really changed my life.  It has helped me stay sober (my sister is also grateful).  I was also able to get the Nicotine patches and with the help the Wellness coach, who also helped me to quit smoking.  Not to mention important blood tests, lung CT scans, mammograms, and medications for high cholesterol and low thyroid. So in a way you can say my life has been saved! 

The staff has such a “can do” attitude. 

I think they feel determined to get you help one way or another and thereby deliver the gift of making you feel you are not alone in your struggles.  Again this is immeasurable and where my gratitude comes from.  Thank you!  Thank you!

I’d love to name the staff individually, but I’d hate to leave anyone out.  You are all GREAT! And we are all so LUCKY to have VBA!”

With Sincere Gratitude,
Jennifer Dirrane

Jennifer wants you to know that if you feel you need someone to talk to or need inspiration, you can contact her at