Sarasota County Friendship Centers to receive $192,655 for its clinics

(Sarasota, FL) The Friendship Centers, a non-profit organization serving older adults in Southwest Florida, has been awarded a grant of $290,580 to be used to upgrade equipment and enhance medical and dental services for uninsured or underinsured clients served by its health clinics in Sarasota, Lee and Collier Counties.

The funds awarded to the Friendship Centers are part of the 2016-17 State Funds Grant Program sponsored by the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and the State of Florida, Department of Health. The Association is the fiscal agent for awarding and allocating the Florida legislature’s statewide appropriation of $10 million to free and charitable clinics.

In Sarasota and Venice, the Friendship Centers grant will fund new ophthalmology equipment, hi-tech dental chairs and sterilization equipment. In Naples, it will pay for a digital Panorex (two-dimensional dental x-ray machine), ophthalmology and sterilization equipment.  And in Fort Myers, funds will be used for laboratory and radiology testing for clients. 

The grant will also support a new volunteer management/credentialing software system to house information for all volunteer providers in Sarasota, Venice and Naples.

The breakdown of funds by county is: Sarasota County, $192,655; Collier County, $55,095; and Lee County, $42,830.

“This is an exciting time for our clinics and we are very fortunate to have received such a generous award to help us fulfill our mission,” stated Rosa Valenzuela, the Friendship Centers’ Director of Health Systems for Sarasota County. “This grant will allow us to continue to serve the underserved.  Our future is looking brighter than ever and I am honored to work alongside a dedicated team of health care professionals.”

This is the second year that the Friendship Centers has received a substantial grant from the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.  In late 2014, the organization received nearly $96,000 for much-needed dental and medical equipment, supplies and lab fees in Sarasota, Lee and Collier Counties, funds that were deployed in fiscal year 2015.

The Friendship Centers is a national pioneer in the delivery of health care to adults age 50 and older who have limited incomes or are uninsured.  Clinics are staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses, dentists, dental hygienists and health professionals who enjoy practicing for the sheer love of medicine. Health care services have been provided in Sarasota since 1978, in Venice since 1991, Fort Myers since 1982 and Naples since 1985.

The Friendship Centers’ health clinics are located in the following communities:

 Sarasota:  Rubin Center for Healthy Aging, 1900 Brother Geenen Way, Sarasota, FL  34236; medical 941.556.3220; dental 941.556.3232 

Venice:  Pat Buster Health Clinic, 2350 Scenic Drive, Venice, FL 34293, medical 941.584.0041, dental 941.584.0054

Fort Myers: Wellness Clinic, 4250 Hatton Rogers Lane, Fort Myers, FL 33903 and The Heights Clinic, 15570 Hagie Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33908; 239.656.0221.

Naples:  Senior Friendship Health Center, 2355 Stanford Court, Unit 701, Naples, FL  34221; 239.556.7425

About the Friendship Centers

The Friendship Centers serve older adults in Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto, Lee and Collier Counties. Its mission is to promote health, dignity and quality of life throughout the journey of aging.  For more than four decades the organization has served persons 50 and older with programs and services that include medical and dental clinics, activity centers, lifelong learning, meals at centers and delivered to the homebound, caregiver support, adult day services, and case management.  More than 1,000 volunteers give their time valued at more than $3 million annually.  For more information, visit or call 941.955.2122.

About the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

The Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (FAFCC) is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization that represents and supports Florida’s free and charitable clinics and networks through public policy advocacy, funding and resource development, knowledge exchange, data collection and research, and marketing.  Free and charitable clinics and networks are not-for-profit, community-based and faith-based organizations that provide healthcare services at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured and underserved individuals, while relying heavily on volunteer healthcare professionals and community partnerships. Florida has more than 100 free and charitable clinics and networks, the most of any state.  More information is available at