A Passion for Healing

Eula Hall was born near Greasy Creek, Kentucky. Her parents were tenant farmers. She completed 8 grades in 5 years but never attended high school because it was too far away to attend.

Her only time away from Kentucky was during World War II when she worked in a factory in New York. She was accused of started a labor riot over poor working conditions and sent home. She became a domestic servant for boarding homes where miners lived. She would later become a VISTA volunteer in President Johnson’s War on Poverty. This is where she unleashed the activist within her.

At the age of 46, Eula created the Mud Creek Health Clinic to serve the needs of those with no insurance. The clinic began in a trailer. When the initial space became inadequate, Eula moved her family into the trailer and used her home for the clinic.

In just 4 years, the clinic was seeing patients from Tennessee, West Virginia, Ohio as well as Kentucky. The clinic could no longer accommodate the patient level. Eula decided to merge the clinic with another clinic. This merger allowed the combined clinics to apply for federal support.

In 1982, an arsonist burned down the clinic’s facility. For a while the clinic used a picnic table to see patients. The federal Appalachian Regional Commission agreed to supply funds for a new facility if the clinic could come up with $80,000 in matching funds. In a short period of time, the clinic raised $120,000. What was remarkable about this was that the community served by the clinic is one of extreme poverty.

The clinic sees over 200,000 patients each year. In addition to medical cases, Eula also provides help with disability claims, Social Security benefits, food stamp assistance, and other areas of need.

While Eula never got past the 8th grade in school, she has received 4 honorary doctorate degrees. She passed away at the age of 93.

Eula Hall is an example of how one person can be a catalyst for social change. She exemplified the quote of George Bernard Shaw: “Some people(1) see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.” Eula Hall had limited resources, but she had something that resources can’t provide: passion for social justice.

Just imagine how our society would function with more Eula Halls? How might we inspire others to reach out in support of others even when their resources are limited? Just imagine the spark that ignites the passion to support others? How do we create that spark of caring as a more common human trait?

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“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” – Edward Kennedy (U.S. Senator who visited the clinic started by Eula Hall)

(1)The original quote has been made gender neutral.

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