Auburn Unitarian Universalist Fellowship has partnered with a nonprofit organization that works to relieve medical debt.
The church, which located on East Thach Avenue and can be identified by the rainbow-colored sign in its lawn proclaiming some of the church's key beliefs, partnered with RIP Medical Debt earlier this year.
AUUF's pastor Chris Rothbauer said he's unnerved by the large amounts of medical debt that can trap low-income, needy individuals and their families.
“It is a system that keeps some people their entire lives,” Rotherbauer said.
RIP Medical Debt was founded by two former debt collections executives who wanted to use their knowledge of healthcare debt to help improve people's lives. According to its website, RIP Medical Debt buys the medical debt of impoverished individuals and then forgives it.
As a church leader, Rothbauer said he felt his congregation needed to support the organization.
“This is part of being a loving, compassionate community,” Rothbauer said. “Not just in our little silos, in our churches, in our congregations, but in the larger world. It’s helping make sure the most vulnerable people in our community are taken care of.”
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Around 11% of Lee County residents are under collections for medical debt. Across the state, 21% are under collections for medical debt, according to the Urban Institute.
“It has been said that a community can be judged based on how well they take care of their most vulnerable,” Rothbauer said. “This is one way to ensure that we are taking care of our most vulnerable people.”
AUUF had originally planned to launch this project on March 29, but orders from local and national officials prohibiting large public gatherings caused the church to postpone fundraising. Rothbauer said AUUF plans to pick things up and begin fundraising in the fall.
AUUF’s aims to have fundraising events such as concerts, art fairs and other creative ways to gather for a cause, Rothbauer said. Rothbauer said he invites all members of the Auburn community to join the church.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman