It's been more than two decades since a group of concerned citizens and ministries banded together to help low income residents receive the health care they desperately needed. 25 years later, TOMAGWA has helped tens of thousands of area residents remain healthy, while gradually expanding the services they offer.
"In the late 80's people from the assistance ministries in the area were seeing more and more people ask about medical care and nothing was available," said TOMAGWA executive director Judy Deyo.
Deyo said two cases were the final straw and people banded together to do something.
"There was a little girl who lost her hearing from recurring ear infections because her mother couldn't afford to send her to the doctor," Deyo said. "Then there was a father that passed away from an illness that could have been treated because he didn't have insurance. That wasn't acceptable to the community."
TOMAGWA was born in 1989. Back then the health care ministry sent patients to a few doctors offices in the area to receive care.
"Eventually we started a clinic inside a church where two doctors would come on their lunch hours to see patients," Deyo said.
Years later the clinic has grown into its own facility, handling dozens of patients a day. They have done it all on donations from within the community. They receive no government funds.
TOMAGWA plans to celebrate its silver anniversary with a series of events, beginning with special showings of the film "Son of God" Feb. 28, at Tomball Premiere Theater, 28497 Tomball Pkwy, starting with the 11 a.m. show.
"We will be offering coupons for a small bag of popcorn to anyone who visits our booth before the 11:00 a.m. showing," said Deyo. "There will be a drawing as well, with a $50 Premiere Cinema gift certificate as the prize. Our purpose is to raise community awareness about our mission of providing care, offering hope and restoring dignity to low-income, uninsured families."
TOMAGWA will also hold a special birthday party March 9 from 2 - 4 p.m., at the clinic.
"We would really like for the community to come celebrate with us," Deyo said. "We will have cake and ice cream, a rededication of the clinic and we will unveil our Wall of Honor."
There are several other events in the planning stages as well. In April the annual fund raising breakfast will be held at Lone Star College - Tomball. In May, preliminary work is being done to develop an dog walk and various pet contests. This summer, TOMAGWA will participate in the city's Fourth of July celebration and Tomball Night in August. TOMAGWA is also planning a family festival filled with fun, games, and food for October. The year's activities will end in December with the annual patient Christmas party.
"We hope that through our presence at various functions throughout the area, as well as the events we are coordinating, that we can remind people of the importance of our mission and how many people have been helped during the last 25 years," said Diane Holland, anniversary committee chair. "We want everyone to know what an important role TOMAGWA has played in the lives of our communities in Harris, Montgomery and Waller counties."
Deyo added that a simple donation of $25 would provide blood pressure medicine to three patients and $50 would provide diabetes medicine to three more patients.
"We are excited," Deyo said. "25 years is a long time and it's special for us."