As a young doctor, James Trippi was encouraged to volunteer at a local food pantry in Indianapolis. What he discovered during those pivotal moments changed the course of his professional life forever.
According to Trippi, “Many of the individuals who relied on the food pantry were homeless and malnourished.” He realized many had severe medical problems, but had no way to access care. At the time, there were hardly any homeless shelters and the only way to receive healthcare was through an emergency room. These people needed help.
Trippi developed a plan when he discovered All Saints Church in Indianapolis. The church frequently opened its doors to the homeless, allowing them to sleep in the pews. Trippi and his colleagues approached the church about setting up a small clinic for the homeless. “We were allowed to use the church nursery to provide medical services. We had no equipment, but we brought what we could,” he shared.
Thanks to Trippi’s initiative, the first agency in Indianapolis to bring medical care to the homeless was born. What started as a small healthcare center in a church in 1988 has now turned into a thriving organization that spans the city. Gennesaret Free Clinics now provides full service healthcare to homeless people through medical clinics in a shelter, a church, a mobile medical van and two food pantries – all thanks to 19 employees and over 200 volunteers.
Trippi credits his friends and colleagues for inspiring him to go down this path of service. According to Trippi, “Every single time, year after year, you recognize that it was a good usage of your time. When we started, I was nervous, but the community keeps me going.”
After 30 years, Trippi’s passion could have dwindled, but he “still loves it.” What’s his secret? “Do what you enjoy and do it well. Make sure it’s something you look forward to. Don’t wait until the perfect moment, because it’ll never happen.”
When considering the future, Trippi hopes everyone has access to healthcare and organizations like Gennesaret won’t be needed. He is confident we’ll get there one day. “When we come together as a working community we help support each other, educate each other, care for each other and see to each other’s needs. It’s been said that each of us has our own needs and gifts and if we match the needs to the gifts, we all are better for it.”