Men donned tuxedos; women wore glittering formal dresses, and children dressed in their cotillion finest.
But stuffiness was not invited to this black-tie gala.
As MC Andrew laid down hip-hop, old school and swinging Sinatra tunes, dozens of children and their parents danced and partied at the annual “Dress Up with Grown Ups Gala,” hosted by the Medical Care for Children Partnerships (MCCP) at the Mason Inn Saturday night, April 6.
Former Redskin player Charles Mann, the master of ceremonies, and Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of George Mason University, welcomed 250 guests to the annual fundraiser, which included many Northern Virginia business leaders and local legislators.
“Children’s health is our mission, and children are a special part of our celebration tonight,” said Alan Harbitter, president of the MCCP Foundation Board of Directors. “We really want everyone to have a fun and memorable time.”
Judging from the laughter and smiles on the dance floor, they did.
Although the gala was a child-centered celebration—featuring a magician, caricaturist and fire truck—the MCCP Foundation has a serious mission.
THE PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP funds healthcare for the children of uninsured working families in Fairfax County. MCCP-eligible children, many of whom are immigrants, have working parents who don’t have access to health insurance and whose incomes are too high for Medicaid but too low for adequate, regular healthcare. For a family of four in Fairfax County, the annual income level cut-off is about $55,000, said MCCP Executive Director Margery Leveen Sher.
“We want these children to have the care that any other child has,” Sher said. “It’s a great cost savings for the community, because without MCCP, they would go to the emergency room, and probably be a lot sicker and need more care. We are often the last safety net.”
Sher said the nonprofit foundation currently provides medical and dental care to approximately 2,500 uninsured children in low-income families in Fairfax County, and last year spent $172,000 on children’s dental care alone. She said approximately $600 covers the dental care needs for one child, and estimates about 9,000 children need the help of MCCP.
The MCCP Foundation also marked a milestone at the gala: providing $1 million in healthcare costs to Fairfax County’s children of low income, uninsured families.
“I like the combination of corporations, healthcare providers and public entities coming together to provide a leveraged model for taking care of the healthcare needs of Fairfax County’s working poor. … It’s an enriching, rewarding, innovative organization,” MCCP Foundation board member Harry Klaff said.
Partners of MCCP include Fairfax County government, corporations and individual financial supporters. Kaiser Permanente and 300 doctors and dentists provide low or no-cost care to MCCP children. Sher said Fairfax County provides case management for families, and support that includes transportation, language assistance and help accessing specialty care.
“MCCP is a unique partnership between healthcare service providers, like Kaiser Permanente, the county and the foundation that fills a critical need in our county—health and dental care for children that would not otherwise have access to it,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), who attended the event with his wife Nancy.
Herrity said MCCP “has a special place in my heart” because of his father’s involvement in its formation more than 25 years ago. “It is a great example of personal and corporate responsibility and giving.”
ONE OF THE EVENING’S HIGHLIGHTS was the presentation of the Dr. Jorge Arnoldson memorial award. Arnoldson, a pediatrician who passed away in 2009, was one of the original doctors of the MCCP program in 1988. The award is given to a person who embodies Dr. Arnoldson’s credo that “giving is a matter of conscience.”
Dr. Tehreem Butt, of Fairfax Family Dentistry, received the award.
“Dr. Butt has provided a welcoming dental home to our children for many years, and he is always willing to provide care in an emergency,” Harbitter said. “He always treats our children just like other patients in his practice, with kindness and compassion.”
“I like to see children smile,” Butt said as he accepted his award. “I want to help them stay out of pain. When they come to my office, sometimes they are kicking and screaming, but they leave happy. That’s the best part of my profession.”
Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Butt attended dentistry school at the Nishtar Medical College in Multan. In 1986, he emigrated to the United States and completed a two–year dental program at New York University. In 2007, he and his family moved to Centreville, and he opened his Fairfax practice in 2008.
“Since then I have had the pleasure of treating children referred by MCCP. This experience has given a totally new meaning to my dental profession,” Butt said. “To me, children are the most beautiful creatures of God and there is nothing comparable to being able to give them a healthy and happy smile.”
Event sponsors included: Kaiser Permanente, Jones Lang LaSalle, Quest Diagnostics, INOVA, ICF International, Reston Hospital Center, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.
To find out more about MCCP and how to support it, visit mccpfoundation.org.