100 Women Who Lunch

How the Neighborhood Health Clinic is buoyed by its guild.

BY June 16, 2014

It took a lunch at the Bay Colony Beach Club restaurant for me to learn that there’s even more than I thought to the phenomenon that is our Neighborhood Health Clinic in Naples. Beyond the 600 doctors, dentists, nurses and lay people who volunteer their time to serve the health needs of low-paid, working adults, there is a  guild. And it’s 100 women strong.

Yes, strong—for these are women with powerful credentials to serve the mission of raising money and being ambassadors for the clinic founded by Dr. William and Nancy Lascheid.  And it was a pleasure to listen to a couple of them over lunch to get to know what drives them to the cause.

Penny Lauer is a clinic board member and president of the Women’s Guild. She must have been born with an extra set of volunteer genes because, at nine, she was helping raise money for polio victims, at 12, was passing out blankets to the homeless in her small town in Ohio and it has gone on for a lifetime. Penny says, “I’ve baked cookies and chaperoned field trips for my children’s schools, helped save ballets, orchestras and theaters from the wrecking ball, worked at soup kitchens for the Salvation Army, helped raise funds and visibility for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children and now here I am with the Neighborhood Health Clinic. Without the clinic, our patients’ lives would be in jeopardy and families would be lost.”

Kathy Friday comes to the guild with a background of representing private industry with the federal government. She’s skilled at all the things it takes to be a persuasive advocate. “I’ve been out of the business for several years,” she says, “but the instincts remain. When my focus changed from that industry to the health and well-being field as a result of personal life-threatening health issues, I became aware of this community’s good services and those in need. I have advocated for heart health and cancer awareness.” An invitation to a guild lunch—these people are good at lunch—won her heart and soul and she’s now enthusiastically dedicated to helping the working poor.

Shannon Anderson, a marketing-strategic planner-development person at the clinic, is the one who set up this lunch for me. She arrived at the clinic after a distinguished legal career and 15 years in the non-profit world. “When I left my prior position (at United Way),” she says, “I was gratified to have quite a number of job offers from other non-profits and the public sector. I knew I wanted to be part of an A+ organization. Lucky me. I got the A+++++ organization.”

Well, as I said, the guild knows the lunch drill. The lobster salad was stellar and the conversation smart and full of convivial wit. It did even better, though, back in April with a best-ever 194 guests for lunch at the Royal Poinciana Club. The guild put out the word and raised $16,233. Delicious.

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