Green works to keep others well

Jan. 15, 2014 @ 08:34 PM

Looking back, Marilyn Green didn’t have a compelling reason to enter the pharmaceutical field.

“There was no background or history; I didn’t know a pharmacist that I particularly respected,” she said. “I believe it was a God-planned thing.”

After decades of work in the field in upstate New York, Green is now the executive director and pharmacist of The Helping HandClinic, a clinic that supplies medical, diagnostic, dental, vision and pharmaceutical services to Lee County residents with low income and no health insurance. It is because of her dedication to serving others while at the helm of this organization and her other community work that Green was named a recipient of The Herald’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

“I took an oath when I graduated from college that said as a pharmacist, I would not base my care of a person on finances, but on need,” Green said. “It’s a terrible thing to be sick. No one likes to be sick, but to be sick and to have no resource so nothing can be done about it — that is really tragic.”

‘She’s just good’

In The Helping Hand Clinic office, located in the Lee County Arts and Community Center on Steele Street, Green’s able to take a bite from her lunch before shuffling paperwork and moving clients’ files to another portion of a desk. Her staff members and volunteers joke it’s a slow day when Green’s able to finish her meal.

“She’s just good,” said Angela Hamilton, a Helping Hand receptionist. “A really nice, Christian lady. She keeps everyone calm. She’s just a kind-hearted lady. She’s got to help everybody.”

Hamilton lost her job when her previous employer went out of business, and she found herself at Helping Hand looking for assistance.

“She told me ‘Yes, we are hiring,’” Hamilton said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

People across the economic spectrum fall on hard times, she said, and Green, through the clinic, helps those who are in “bad shape.”

“People who don’t have that kind of care end up in the hospital,” Green said. “The hospital stabilizes them, and then they put them out. And they go through the same cycle again. The don’t have the medication to treat their diabetes, so they get sick again and they go back to the hospital, until finally they die. Our intervention gives them their medicine and keeps them healthy. That has been my heart, I guess you could say, for others. To serve, to care for those who are in need.”

Barbara Kellam, a Helping Hand patient, said Green’s importance to the Lee County community couldn’t be stressed enough.  

“A lot of people don’t have a job and don’t have the money,” she said. “She’s an angel. She looks after you.”

Dollars into care

Green took a budget of nearly $190,000 — all donations and grants without assistance from the government — and was able to offer more than $3 million worth of medical services last year. Nearly 30 patients a day, or close to 120 people a week, seek Helping Hand’s vision, dental and medical services. They receive the same quality of care without the financial worry, Green said.

Helping Hand is a United Way of Lee County partner agency, and Green is often asked to speak during fundraising campaigns, said local United Way Executive Director Jan Hayes.

“The stories she tells can make anyone cry because it’s stories of people in great physical pain,” she said. “... Marilyn is small in stature, and she is soft spoken. But Marilyn has this giant heart full of love and commitment to help those who need help. She is so deserving of this honor, and I am so pleased for the clinic.” 

Jennifer Moneymaker, a pharmaceutical technician and the coordinator for the Helping Hand medicine program, said she respects Green and called her a pleasure to work with.

“She’s very important because of the ties she has to the community,” she said. “She can turn $1 to $100.”

Good Samaritan

Helping Hand provides Deborah Flen’s family their medicine, including her husband’s blood pressure and diabetes prescriptions.

“Without her, I couldn’t afford it,” she said. “Everywhere you ask about Helping Hand, who do they know? Mrs. Green. She’s got that calming effect. She may not know right away how to help, but she’ll find a way to help. I think the world of that woman.”

With the high cost of medicine and health insurance, Flen said Green assists people who are facing perilous situations and may not have other options.

“She helps them see a doctor and keeps them alive,” she said. “Some of them wouldn’t be able to survive, and that’s the truth.”

Green credits her faith as the force behind her good works because she is capable and called on to love her neighbor as a follower of Christ.

“We are always going to have the poor and the sick,” Green said. “We are responsible. We are responsible to help people. Jesus gave the illustration of the good Samaritan. We are not to walk by, we are to reach out. It is our responsibility to help those in need. And Sanford has done that.” 

Helping Hand is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Green has three children and was married to the late Lloyd Green.