By Ed Brock
Clayton County's most generous people will once again gather to dine on a local delicacy, tomato sandwiches, to help provide health care for the uninsured.
It's the annual Tomato Sandwich Party to benefit the Good Shepherd Clinic in Morrow, and Cathy Ratti, director of the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services, will be the guest of honor.
"To me it's gratifying to be able to participate because I think it's such a worthwhile cause," Ratti said.
As usual, former Georgia legislator and publisher Jim Wood and his wife Martha will host the party Saturday evening at their house on Sequoia Drive in Forest Park. Wood held his first tomato sandwich party as a political fund raiser, but about three years ago he revived it to benefit the clinic.
The Good Shepherd Clinic, located on Murphy Drive behind the First Baptist Church of Morrow, provides basic health care to people without health insurance. Ratti said DFCS often refers patients to the clinic, but people in the community may misunderstand the kind of people who go there.
"I think people think it's all homeless drug addicts," Ratti said.
In fact, most of the patients there are working, but their job doesn't provide insurance and they don't make enough to pay for their own.
"In many cases this makes a difference in getting people back out there being productive," Ratti said.
The Woods have been already been preparing for the big event, putting up a tent, cleaning the garbage cans. There have been a lot of changes at the clinic, Woods said.
"I don't know how that's going to affect our turn out," Wood said, but he added that he's hopeful that more people will come to help out. "A lot of stuff is happening at the last minute."
The clinic has suffered a shortfall in funds that forced it to cut its hours, which it had recently expanded, and lose its first paid medical director. Starting Aug. 1 retired Dr. Charles Johnson will volunteer his time as the clinic's new medical director.
Along with the juicy tomato sandwiches, guests who make the suggested $10 donation for admission will be treated to entertainment by the "Jonesmen" gospel quartet from Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Lake City and Ed Davis' band "Faculty Grass."
The clinic, located on Murphy Drive behind the First Baptist Church, opened in 2000. It also receives funding from the Clayton County Community Foundation, the Presbyterian Church of Greater Atlanta and local churches and civic clubs.
Most of the funds that are raised at the party are needed for general operating expenses, primarily medicine.
The goal for this year is to raise $22,000. For more information and directions to the party call (770) 960-8494.