Elected officials, healthcare specialists and members of the Williamson County community gathered at Saint Philip Catholic Church Friday evening in celebration of Mercy Community Healthcare’s 20th anniversary.
The evening celebrated the past, looking back at the organization’s foundation, but also celebrated the future, of which Cindy Siler is the face. Siler, CEO of the organization, said her three years with Mercy have been challenging, but she’s loved being part of the growing faith-based organization.
“I’ve said to many people that this is my third time being a CEO, and this is the hardest job I’ve ever loved,” she said. “It is a combination of a lot of different types of skills and different professionals but with the mission of actually serving people, to honor God and to reflect Jesus’ love. And I’ve never worked faith-based before, so it’s really been an honor for me to be able to be here.”
In the years she’s been with Mercy, she’s seen the organization grow from having 7,000 patients to 10,000. But, the nonprofit had an even smaller start than that.
Mercy Community Healthcare started 20 years ago as the nonprofit Mercy Children’s Clinic in downtown Franklin. According to the organization’s website, Tim Herschel saw a need for pediatric care in the Hard Bargain and Natchez neighborhoods and founded the clinic on “the belief that local businesses, churches and individuals — and not solely government — should help shoulder the burden for providing care for these children.”
While serving only children for several years, slowly adding services like mental health and school counseling, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded the organization a grant that named Mercy a federally qualified health center in 2012. Just one year later, Mercy Children’s Clinic became Mercy Community Healthcare, serving adults and children alike without sacrificing its original mission.
Now, years later, the organization began its 20th anniversary celebration with a reception and auction before moving on to dinner and remarks from special guests, one of whom was Gov. Bill Lee.
He explained he ran for governor largely because of his work with nonprofits, seeing the difference those organizations could make in people’s lives and in government policy. He expressed his continued support of nonprofits like Mercy.
“I have realized in a year that government isn’t the answer to the greatest challenges we face,” he said. “We never have enough funds. We never have enough resources. We never have the capacity or the strength to meet the needs of communities, but we’re a government of the people, and the people do have the capacity to meet the greatest needs in our communities, and that’s exactly what’s happening right here.”
Later in the evening, Siler announced Mercy will undergo an advancement that will help the organization continue to meet the needs of the community, as the organization plans to build a new building. The nonprofit is currently working out of four separate suites in Williamson Square, and this new building will provide a central location for operation.
While there is not yet a confirmed location for the building, Siler said they have their sights set on a place.
“By March of 2022, we will be out of Williamson Square,” she said.
All the proceeds from the evening benefited Mercy’s behavioral health services and suicide prevention.
To learn more about Mercy Community Health Care, visit mercytn.org.