HealthNet’s Annual Fundraising Gala Celebrates 40 Years of Service to the Indianapolis Community


In 1968, a group of neighbors on Indianapolis’ southeast side and a Methodist Hospital doctor joined together to provide a much-needed community resource: quality, affordable and accessible health care.

As a result, Southeast Health Center opened in a renovated bank building at Virginia and College avenues near Fountain Square. Curtains separated exam rooms; medicines were stored in the basement bank vault. If able, patients contributed a quarter for their care in a jar on the receptionist’s desk. That same year, Central Avenue Health Center opened in the United Methodist Church at 12th Street and Central Avenue.

Four decades later, HealthNet, Inc. continues its mission of improving lives with compassionate health care service, regardless of ability to pay. Through its growing network of five community-based health care centers, one OB/GYN pediatric care center, a pediatric and adolescent care center, eight school-based health centers, Better Indy Babies/Healthy Families and the Homeless Initiative Program, HealthNet annually provides affordable health care and support services to over 42,000 individuals and families.

The community is invited to celebrate HealthNet’s 40th anniversary at its 17th Annual Fundraising Gala on Friday, September 19, 2008 at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, 650 N. Meridian St.  The event begins with a 6 p.m. reception, followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m. Sam Odle, president/CEO of IU/Methodist hospitals, will serve as the honorary event chair and Alpha Blackburn, president/CEO of Blackburn Architects, is the event chair.

The theme of this year’s event is “Changing Stories, Changing Lives,” and will feature an evening of fine dining, entertainment, and an array of unique silent auction items. “Four Decades Dance” will be performed by the Kenyettá Dance Company, an Indianapolis-based modern dance troupe. Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Health Department, will receive the 2008 Dr. Dale Benson Award.

“This event serves as the organization’s primary fundraiser and educates the community about HealthNet while thanking dedicated supporters,” said Booker Thomas, HealthNet president and CEO.  “We raise a large portion of our discretionary funds each year through this event. In addition to the quality health care we’re able to provide, funds from this event allow us to help cover the cost of medicine, tests and sometimes even clothing for our patients.”

“From HealthNet’s beginnings in the 1960s, the administration and physicians of Methodist Hospital realized the need for an organization dedicated to providing compassionate ambulatory health care to the uninsured and disadvantaged in our community, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Odle. “Even in the present, providing health care services for those in need strikes an emotional chord with me and all the staff at Clarian Health. We applaud HealthNet for its unwavering commitment to this cause for so many years and pledge our support to ensure HealthNet will be around for many years to come.”

Tables for 10 are $1,500, and individual tickets are $125.  For more information or to make a contribution, contact Tony McGee, director of development, at 317-781-4918 or by e-mail at

For 40 years, HealthNet has been a mainstay in the Indianapolis community. Through its network of five community-based health centers, an OB/GYN care center, a pediatric and adolescent care center and eight school-based health centers, HealthNet annually serves over 42,000 individuals and families. Many of them are uninsured or underinsured and live below the federal poverty level.

HealthNet services include: primary and preventive health care; OB-GYN support and coaching for expectant mothers; Healthy Families and Better Indy Babies; dental services; Homeless Initiative Program; counseling, outreach and support services.

HealthNet’s health centers include Barrington Health Center, Care Center at the Tower, Martindale-Brightwood Health & Dental Center, Pediatric & Adolescent Care Center, People’s Health & Dental Center, Southeast Health & Dental Center, Southwest Health Center, and Southwest OB/GYN Annex.