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The Community Health Care Foundation, after waiting out the bitter nurses' strike at Lockport Memorial Hospital, is ready to go public with fund-raising efforts for health care in eastern Niagara County.

Spokeswoman Patt Fagan said the group's 14-member board will be staffing the World's Largest Cider Barrel at Niagara's Apple Country Festival Oct. 6 and 7, hoping for cash on the barrelhead.

The group will also be distributing its brochures, "to explain what we're about and get our name out there," Fagan said.

The group was founded in late 1999, in the wake of the near-bankruptcy of Lockport Memorial, to help raise funds for the hospital. However, its focus has broadened to assistance for all not-for-profit health care providers in eastern Niagara.

Fagan said the foundation is zeroing in on the lack of medical care for the migrant farm workers of Niagara County. Two subcommittees have been formed, one on bringing the migrants medical care and another on dental care.

"Apparently there are some kids who have never seen dentists," Fagan said. "I think the migrants are part of our community, and if it weren't for them we wouldn't have the fruits and vegetables we enjoy."

Meanwhile, Lockport Memorial has been in touch with the foundation. Spokeswoman Carolyn Moore said no specific projects have been decided on, however.

"The hospital has given them a variety of suggestions," Moore said. "The hospital and foundation have decided they will designate things on a project-by-project basis."

Fagan said the foundation, which hasn't met all summer, in part because of the strike and in part because of the vacation schedule of its chairman, the Rev. J. Fay Cleveland, will convene Oct. 22 in Lockport Public Library to discuss further fund-raising ideas.

The foundation has organized a third subcommittee on seeking grant funding. It is also seeking two more members to bring its total to 16, as two members have had to resign, Fagan said.


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