May 1, 1976 the Matthew 25 Health Clinic opened on Clay Street to offer free medical services to low income, uninsured adults. A small prayer group that had been studying the Matthew scriptures in the summer of 1975 felt a need to live the Word and find some way to apply those words to our lives. Father Tom O'Connor who was serving soup to the needy from the rectory's back door, saw a need for some kind of health services for these people. Again, it was a small group who met over a period of eight months at St. Mary's rectory to explore the legalities of such a venture and made plans to make it a reality. The Holy Spirit directed us.
An obvious need for help with dental problems appeared immediately. Looking for ways to deal with this need began by seeking out dentists who were willing to take referrals from Matthew 25 and to their credit, several dentists stepped up and volunteered. by 1979 a Dental Clinic was established in a house across from the health clinic.
Up to this point the clinics were functioning entirely by volunteers...both lay and professional, and growing support from many of the churches in Fort Wayne as well as individuals.
- contributed by June Moord, a member of the original group
The Next Step
In the spring of 1983 the board began formal investigation of a new site for the Clinic. By March, 1984, a Kick-off for $100,000 Building Drive was initiated. In September 1984 a purchase agreement was signed for new facility, and by January 1985, it was moving into the current location at 413 E. Jefferson, less than a block away from the original site. The Clinic also gained recognition from the city, area and even beyond. Perhaps some of the more significant ones: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Matthew 25 as a distinguished community health protection program and presents the Secretary's Award for Excellence; also the Alfred Adier Institute award recognized outstanding community service.
In the early 1990s, demand continued to outgrow supply. The board looked at an expansion of the current building, starting another fund-raising drive. In May 1994, building expansion trebled Clinic space from 2,700 to 8,300 square feet; a part-time Nurse Practitioner was hired. In May, 1996, the Clinic celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Lobby crowded, Patient Assistance in the “Conference Room”, exam rooms backed up, hallways difficult to get around in, all part of the scene at the Clinic in the early 2000s. The board recognized that more space and technology was needed. On March 2, 2006, Matthew 25 launched a $2.9 million dollar capital campaign. By May 5, 2006 ground breaking for new addition at same site. On October 11, 2006 all existing rooms–exam, medicines and office moved to the new part of the expanded clinic. By the start of 2007, medical exam & office spaces and the Medicine Room opened in the remodeled part of the clinic. February 27, 2007 marked the dedication of entire facility. May 31, 2007 dedicated the Helen Van Armen Eye Clinic.
Patient Education Expansion
With the need for even more space, Matthew 25 launched a $1.5 million dollar capital campaign in 2016. By the end of the summer in 2016, site work began in the west parking lot. This project involved the construction of a two-story patient education center onto the existing clinic. The investment in this new facility will allow the clinic to better serve Fort Wayne and the surrounding communities for years to come. The patient education center opened at the beginning of 2017, and is being used to provide education classes to patients improve their overall health status. Additionally, the old gravel parking lot was completely redone, paving way to what is now the employee parking lot.
Along Jefferson Boulevard, passersby will take notice of the beautiful garden. The garden is in memory of Grace Mastrangelo, the late wife of longtime volunteer Dr. Michael Mastrangelo.
Inside the clinic, renovations were made to add a Prayer Room. The Prayer Room was donated by Ed Clark and is in honor of Dr. Jim and Judy Frey. The Prayer Room is open to staff, volunteers, and patients to use should anyone need to boost their spiritual health.
Throughout these now over forty years, the prayers and dreams of the originating prayer group have continued to be fulfilled. Serving the underserved in greater Fort Wayne continues to be the reason for our existence, “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”