By Kevin Tibbles, NBC News correspondent
Tonight's "Making a Difference" report doesn't come with bells and whistles. And, in my opinion, that is what makes it so special. It is a straightforward story about two longtime friends who grew up "without" on the streets of Chicago.
"I don't remember a time when I didn't know Charlie," says George Maltezos, a mental health counselor.
Maltezos and Dr. Charles Martinez are both in their seventies, both retired and both working harder than ever. That is, in part, because this inseparable pair never forgot what it was like growing up in households that could not afford healthcare. "Charlie" even tells the story of suffering a football injury as a kid and worrying about how his folks were going to pay for fixing him up. Sixty-odd years later that story still resonates.
So, after building successful careers in healthcare, neither one wanted to hang it in retirement. Instead, they've opened a tiny community clinic in a working class neighborhood. They treat patients in need, cajole specialists into donating services and badger the drug companies for low-cost prescriptions. And it doesn't cost the folks who come to see them a dime. Thanks to George and Charlie, some four hundred people, who otherwise would likely go without any medical attention, are looked after. Getting a clean bill of health, without the bill.
For more information on the Old Irving Park Community Clinic, go to http://www.oipcc.org/