O’Briens InterFaith fundraisers take off

With Dr. Pat O’Brien’s past ties to InterFaith Health Clinic, and Town of Farragut citizens increasingly relying upon InterFaith’s services, a fundraising idea at The Casual Pint of Farragut has taken off.

Co-owned by O’Brien and his wife, Barbara O’Brien, The Casual Pint at 143 Brooklawn St. has hosted three band performances dating back to July, raising $2,835 for the InterFaith clinic.

InterFaith services “are based on income and the amount of people in your household,” assisting families without health insurance “caught in the cracks,” Melissa Knight, InterFaith executive director, said.

The required income level is “just above the federal poverty line and goes up to 250 percent [of income] of that federal poverty level,” she added.

“I was one of the original people to work on building the InterFaith Health Clinic of the early ’90s,” said O’Brien, an emergency physician and Farragut resident. “It was something very near and dear to me.”

The most recent fundraiser was a contest among the three Knox County locations of The Casual Pint, as O’Brien had the idea to expand the fundraising to all three.

Those fundraisers earlier this month, which totaled $2,013 for InterFaith, were led by O’Brien’s location with $960 following a performance Friday evening, Nov. 17.

“Dr. O’Brien was like, ‘We need to get more of The Casual Pints involved and have like a fundraising competition.’ And so that’s what went on in the month of November,” Knight said.

O’Brien began by hosting fundraising performances in July and September.

“We did one of them in July and it went well, and they said, ‘Let’s do it every eight weeks.’ Then we did another one in September,” he said.

Dr. Marty Prince is lead singer of a collection of medical professionals named “Remedy.”

Prince’s smaller group from Remedy, a quarter called “South River Trail,” has played all three times at O’Brien’s Casual Pint. Each performance lasts two to three hours.

“Marty offered, because he does music on the side, to come and play music at our store for free if we would look for donations for InterFaith,” O’Brien said.

“I can’t say enough good about Dr. O’Brien and Dr. Prince,” Knight said. “This was a great opportunity for the clinic.”

“It’s good music and it’s a good message,” O’Brien said. “My assumption is in two months we’ll do it again.”

Along with the fundraising, O’Brien’s customers “get to understand what [InterFaith] is and how it helps our community,” he said.

Perhaps surprising to some who characterize Farragut as a haven for the well-to-do and rich, the Town “is one of the fastest growing” in terms of citizens needing InterFaith services, Knight said. “… Areas that you would just be shocked at.

“There’s still a need for healthcare for the working poor in our community,” she added. “I think it’s just a residual effect from so many changes in healthcare.”

Knight said many InterFaith participants have been unable, due to losing their jobs during the recession late last decade, to re-acquire the higher level of healthcare they once enjoyed. “For people who have continued to struggle, they have run out of options at this point,” she said.