TV station reaches out to Carroll nonprofit

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Mission of Mercy is taking its message of healing to the airwaves, hoping a promotional video will help it attract more volunteers, raise funds and let needy patients know its free medical and dental services are available to them.

Staff at the Community Media Center, a Westminster cable station that reaches about 34,000 households in Carroll County, produced the 15-minute video. It has been airing daily since Aug. 1 on Channel 19, the county's community access station, and soon will be offered to other community channels in the metropolitan area.

"We have produced it, and we expect others to tag onto it," said Marion Ware, media center director. "It is part of our mission to help nonprofits get the word out."

Such efforts could cost at least $20,000 in the commercial market, but the media center has donated its time and expertise, Ware said.

"This is a great organization, impressive in terms of the needs it is meeting in this community," Ware said. "This is our in-kind donation back to the community."

Rod Lopez, CMC's programming coordinator, and Jeremy M. Farkas, training and volunteer coordinator, produced, directed and edited the segment. They filmed at the mission site in Westminster, one of several locations the mobile clinic serves throughout Western and Central Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.

"I wanted to do this because of the nature of what they do for the community," said Lopez.

Established in 1994, the mission is a nonprofit agency that operates a mobile clinic in a converted recreational vehicle. It has logged nearly 120,000 patient visits, provided dental care to more than 6,300 and dispensed more than 165,000 prescriptions. At its busiest clinic in Westminster, it often serves up to 90 patients a day.

"Mission of Mercy benefits our community," said Farkas. "This was our chance to step in and do what we can for them."

Lopez and Farkas put together the video, interspersing comments from patients willing to appear on television among interviews with the mission's staff.

"We got lots of heartfelt stories from doctors, nurses, the mission's foundress and patients," Farkas said. "We picked out key elements from hours and hours of footage."

The filmmakers captured images of patients waiting quietly in a crowded room and then seeing a doctor. They included pictures of nurses bustling among the patients taking vital signs and case histories and shots of examining rooms and the pharmacy on the traveling van.

Pat Sajak, television game-show host, introduces the film. Alan Christian, a former Baltimore radio personality, provides much of the commentary. Dr. Michael Sullivan, the mission's medical director, offers much of the detail and background.

"We generally see patients that have been rejected at multiple levels along the way," Sullivan said on the film. "We don't make people prove how poor they are to deserve what we have to offer."

The mission depends on the generosity of its benefactors to continue its work, said David Liddle, chief executive officer, who also appears on the film.

"The idea of this film is to raise awareness, not only for patients but for those who might volunteer to serve them," Liddle said in an interview this week. "We have already gotten good feedback."

Mission of Mercy sought the services of the media center hoping to reach a broader audience through a video that can serve many purposes, Liddle said.

"The film offers outreach to patients who may not have known that there are services available to them," he said. "In this economy, there are many new poor who may have never experienced access to medical care."

The mission also hopes to reach doctors who might be willing to accept a referral or two each month in their offices for free.

Lopez said he has spoken with colleagues at other community access stations and found them willing to run the video.

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