A single church in New Mexico voluntarily relieved the medical debt for families of the entire state and more. St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe helped pay off over 1.3 million dollars of the medical debt left to over 780 different families, thus paying off what they claim to be the entire state of New Mexico’s available medical debt, reports the Episcopal News Service.
Not only were they able to raise enough through its members to help those in New Mexico they also paid off all available medical debt in multiple counties in Arizona as well. In total the church was able to relieve accessible medical debt for every family in New Mexico as well as the Apache, Gila, Graham, Mohave, and Navajo counties in Arizona.
St. Bede’s was able to do this through personal donations to the church and by partnering up with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt. RIP Medical Debt is focused on reaching out to families with medical debt and are severely below the established poverty line. They also seek out families dealing with insolvency. St. Bede’s partnership with the non-profit was a major factor in being able to make such a large and impactful act of voluntary charity.
RIP Medical Debt operates like collection agencies in that it will acquire the medical debt of people for pennies on the dollar. So while the church raised just over 15,000 dollars, that $15,000 was able to pay off over 1.3 million dollars of available debt thanks to the partnership with RIP Medical Debt. Each family whose debt was paid will receive a letter informing them that their debt is paid and part of the letter will be stating, “St. Bede’s Episcopal Church has paid off the medical debt you have been struggling with for the past number of years. No strings attached.”
Reverend Catherine Volland of St. Bede’s was quoted saying, “I don’t know if this parish has ever funded a program with such a great impact. We were able to do it because every week we set aside 10% of donations to the church for outreach. Prioritizing service to others is our gospel imperative.” Quite amazing what a single group can do for others when given the chance to do so.
Many claim that churches need to be taxed, but many of those critics fail to realize the harm it would cause to smaller churches who are voluntary funded by charitable donation. Churches who often do more in their community than the state ever could and do so without coercion. Who knows what would have eventually happened to these hundreds of families dealing with their medical debt if the church was taxed as many demand?
An anonymous recipient of this help replied to the unexpected and selfless act by saying, “I was having a hard time trying to figure out how I was going to pay all this amount of money and it’s not been easy finding a job especially when you have two kids and with this pandemic going on. It has really been a very hard year for me and for everyone. I would love to thank personally that special person that helped me with my account. I am so thankful and I just want to say God bless you always.”
St. Bede’s and RIP Medical Debt show what people are capable of doing for others of their own free will and free of government coercion. This story is a shining example of voluntaryism in action.