Need a Good Reason to Give? Listen to what others at UTMB have said...
It’s not hard to see why UTMB employees have responded so enthusiastically to the SECC: it’s an easy, effective and cost-efficient way to give to charities; contributions help improve the quality of life for people in communities locally and around the world; and the campaign supports a wide variety of vital health and human services.
For the past several years, we’ve been asking UTMB employees why they opened their hearts and wallets. Below are some of the personal stories they’ve shared.
We hope you’ll share your story with us as well:
Ike Disaster Recovery - FAR
I am blessed with great family and friends and a great job at UTMB. I have had my share of illnesses over the years, so I am grateful to be here to make my contribute to those that need help, support and guidance in our community. I love Galveston Island and the people.
Shannon Samuelson, Community Education Specialist
Department of Family Medicine
I give because I spent 10 years of my life working in non-profit as a community educator and an advocate to victims of child abuse, family violence, and sexual assault – 9 of those 10 years were here in Galveston County. In that time, I have seen firsthand people’s lives change from the help they received and, while social services are merely a stop along the way, their success is partly because there was someone to help them when they needed it. That help can come in so many forms – medical, education, safety, support and comfort, basic needs, help with addictions, and the list goes on. I believe in what the Galveston County agencies do. So, now that I no longer work in a non-profit community agency, it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and so I give, happy and confident that each dollar will serve someone who needs it.
Emily Blomberg, Asscciate VP, Health System Operations
I’m a strong advocate for the Resource and Crisis Center (RCC) of Galveston County; it's one of the SECC organizations I have supported over the past few years with both time and financial support. The RCC provides a safe, comfortable place for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to recover and get back on their feet. Through volunteering at this organization, I see firsthand what they do, and am continually impressed by the compassion, resilience and generosity the RCC's staff demonstrates every single day. They provide unwavering protection, emotional support, and promote empowerment through case management, support groups, medical and court accompaniment. I have seen many families come to this organization with nowhere else to turn. Through the support and encouragement they receive from RCC, they've been able to overcome extremely difficult situations. Please consider contributing to the RCC, your donations will truly support women and children in need.
Eva Cavazos, LMSW, Senior Social Worker
UTMB Internal Medicine, Harborside Group/Daniels’ Clinic
Why do I give to the SECC? Because it is the right thing to do. As a social worker I see so many needs, and we can make a difference when we all work together. It was very hard to decide on which charity I should choose, but I was able to narrow it down to 3. I have a friend who is my age who was recently diagnosed with ALS; she is brave, but knows that she needs a cure before this takes her life. I also chose the Leukemia and Lymphoma society because my husband died of non Hodgkins Lymphoma and my brother now has Hodgkins Lymphoma. My daughter ran a half marathon raising money for this cause. I cannot run a marathon, but I can donate to this cause. And my last charity, Save the Children. From the time I was a little girl, I remember my mother always making sure that children at our school had food, and clothing and a few extras at holidays. We didn’t have much, but there was always enough to share. My mom is no longer here, but I will continue to remember her and her love for children by donating to this worthy charity.
Nancy J. Fee, Secretary
Office of Continuing Education
I’ve already donated to the America’s VetDogs. I worked with an engineer at United Space Alliance before being laid off due to the Shuttle Program ending. His younger brother had returned from Iraq and been diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). My friend told me that ‘out of the blue,’ his brother committed suicide. My friend no longer had his outgoing personality and said his mother was just devastated! I have a son and daughter and can’t even imagine her loss! I hope my contribution helps train VetDogs for those diagnosed with PTSD, so they can better cope with the terrors they experienced while serving our Country. I wish I could have donated more!
Sherry Carter, Administrative Associate, ASG-6
Departments of Ortho. Surg. & Rehab., Neurology, Neuroscience & Cell Biology
I have given to the United Way every year because of the many partner agencies they support. Having been a volunteer at the Resource and Crisis Center of Galveston County, I have seen the excellent work they do by providing safe, supportive, temporary, accommodations and counseling to victims of violence, abuse, and assault. The resale stores offer employment opportunities when an opening is available.
Sarah P. Leslie, Financial Analyst I
Grants and Contracts Accounting
I feel honored to be able to give to the SECC. It is the least I can do. I also feel very blessed and honored to work for UTMB. This year I chose the Wounded Warriors Foundation. The men and women coming back from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran are subjected to very brutal and senseless acts of war. This war has been compared to the Korean War in reference to the sheer brutality and violence. The Korean War isn’t spoke too much of in history class but it was awful and my grandfather has told me many atrocious things. The soldiers of today see horrifying things and return different people, often feeling alone and detached. The extreme Jihadists groups use mentally handicapped women as living bombs. They use their own little children’s corpses to lure our soldiers out of battle tanks only to mow them down from their hiding places in the desert. It is truly horrifying what our service men and women experience. The rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has skyrocketed when our warriors come home from active duty. It is my honor to give. I wish I could give more to our men and women of service. They are the true heroes worthy of our admiration. I feel proud to donate what little I can to help them return to some form of well deserved normalcy.
Meredith Hartzog, Nurse Clinician, Internal Medicine-Cardiology
I am very fortunate to be blessed with great family and friends and a wonderful job at UTMB. I think the State Employee Charitable Campaign is a great way to show the community our gratitude as State Employees, for all the community does for us. This is an easy way we can give back to our community. I hope everyone takes the time to donate to a charity that pulls at their heart strings. Every dollar makes a difference and we each can make a difference in those less fortunate.
Vocational Nurse, Torres Unit
My Spunky little niece Sandy, who was so full of life and brought smiles to everyone she met, one Thanksgiving morning couldn’t get herself out of bed. My sister rushed her to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She was a trooper but at the tender age of 16, Santos Gloria Cuellar lost her battle. I thank God everyday for sparing my children from all the suffering my niece Sandy, my sister and her family went through. I know it is not a huge donation but if everyone would give a little, what a difference we could make.
Deidra (Dee) Brantley, Patient Affairs Specialist
I have been giving every year to this campaign for so long, I never miss it out of my check. I believe in giving back in the community that has been there for so many of the people who have come in and out of my life, or who I have come in contact with who are looking for resources in our Community to help.
I always give to St. Vincent’s House because I think it is an outstanding resource for the community, I have had several friends down on their luck for a short time in their lives and have been able to educate them about this service they were able to be treated when they were unable to afford to go anywhere else for health care. In most cases most people had no idea this (St. Vincent’s) resource was available to them.I also give to Galveston County Food Bank-Gleanings from the Harvest because the message is very important to make sure and feed and help those in need all year around. Those are just a few that I give too. I can’t say how important it is to give back to our community. It only takes a few minutes to give back as this campaign is very organized, and those minutes you take to give back will make the world of difference to someone in need.
Laurel L. McGuire, Administrative Secretary in Department of Radiation Oncology
I give to the SECC because I believe the entities that receive the funds are doing great things for their communities. I am able to help others and to reach more people with my contributions. I have security knowing that the charities are valid and that my money is going to local families and neighbors. One of the charities I contribute to employed my mom and another performs research into the disease which she died of. As a wife of a retired military member, I also contribute to many veterans’ organizations. By making my donations through my employer, I can contribute to everyone all at one time!
Alberta Narcisse, Microbiology
Each year I look forward to giving to the SECC. I have given to MD Anderson Cancer, and now this year I am giving to Special Olympics. These two organizations have had a great impact on my family. I feel that it is a blessing to be able to give back .
Katharine Gillaspy RN, BSN, CCRC, Office of Institutional Compliance
The reason I like to give is that you never know who you are going to help … could be your neighbor, could be your co-worker, could be your family, could be someone for whom the angels are calling for. No matter who, it is a privilege to give, and I am grateful.
Beverley Irish, Patient Service Specialist
I give to SECC because--as a single parent raising two boys in NYC--at one point I fell on hard times after losing my job and then our home. I was very grateful for the various charitable organizations that helped us and got me back on my feet, and I will never forget that. So now that I am able to, I give to two charities that help people that find themselves in the same situation my family was in. Even though it is not much, it certainly feels great to know that I can give in order to help someone and possibly change someone’s life.
Jennifer Anderson, School of Nursing
My name is Jennifer Anderson and I work in the School of Nursing. I have a very personal reason for giving to the State Employee Charitable Campaign that allows me to see up close how these charities can make a difference and change lives. One of the charities I donate to is the Special Olympics, which is very dear and close to my heart because I have a special needs child with Down Syndrome. I see first-hand how participating in the Special Olympics helps Down Syndrome children, and helps others see that they can achieve the goals they set for themselves. It also gives our children more opportunities for growth and leadership, to improve their quality of life. I hope you will search the long list of charities on the SECC web site and find a charity that you can open your heart to. Your giving really does make a difference!
Michelle Brooks, UTMB Regional WIC Program
I was a single mom of 3 and barely surviving. My youngest daughter was attacked when she was 11. Without going into all the painful details, we were referred to Safe House. Their love and support was more than we could ever imagine. They were a shoulder to cry on when we needed it, regardless day or night, it didn’t matter. The phone calls, the visits, the gifts for birthdays, Christmas or just because. Still to this day, even after 9 years, we are in contact with our case worker. She calls, visits when possible, just to see how were doing. Both of my girls are grown now and have children of their own, she was even at the birth of my granddaughter (the daughter that was attacked). Without them, we would have been lost. I will continue to give as long as I have the means to give.
I don’t personally have a story about SECC helping someone I know, but I chose to donate anyway. I chose St. Jude’s because when I had cancer and was receiving radiation treatments, seeing the very young pediatric patients in the waiting room always broke my heart.
Sheri Whitmire, UTMB - Accounts Payable
I support for breast cancer research and awareness. My mother, Bernice Fowler, was a breast cancer survivor. I give in her honor, for the education and importance for all to have their yearly mammograms. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Adele Herzfeld, LMSW, Sr. Social Worker
I was very impressed by the Galveston Salvation Army in the first few weeks after IKE. They really responded to the needs of our community. If I had an extra million dollars I would give it to them. I do what I can each year through the SECC.
Susana Balfour, Patient Access Specialist at the UTMB Health Access Center
From a practical point of view, I look forward to giving through SECC every year. It is easy and I can select not to be acknowledged by the agencies so that I won’t get mail from them at home. Most of all, I can show my appreciation to organizations that have helped others in need, as well as those organizations that diligently do research on diseases that affect us, our family and our friends. Having a husband and daughter with MS, I know how much my daughter has benefited from the research and the dollars so many people have contributed to the MS Foundation.
Karen Little, Executive Assistant to the Executive Vice President and Provost and Dean, School of Medicine
I donate to Hospice through SECC each year. I lost both parents and a sister to cancer and Hospice was there for my loved ones and my family each time. The nurses were so wonderful and caring – not only to my parents and sister, but to my entire family. It was so comforting for me to know that my loved ones were in such caring and compassionate hands. Hospice employees are very special people and I am so happy that I can give back by donating to this wonderful organization..
Kathleen Yanni, Office of Institutional Effectiveness
My family is food fortunate. We not only have the means to buy food but we also can buy food that is nutritious. I have seen some of our neighbors lose houses and jobs in the past few years and I know that these families make tough choices about what bills to pay and how much food to buy. I choose to support food pantries to help feed those in need, especially children and the elderly.
Lisa J. Velasquez, Senior Administrative Secretary in the
Center for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Department of Pathology
I give to Hospice through SECC because I know firsthand how wonderful their organization is, and what special people it takes to do Hospice work. They go above and beyond to help families through their loved ones end of life issues. Not only that, but they don't stop there - they continue to offer their grief counseling services after the loss. When my husband lost his battle with cancer, they were gentle and supportive with all of his family and especially with me as we spent our last days with him. I know I couldn't do what they do on a daily basis. Giving is what I can do, even if it's a small amount... I know that everything makes a difference.
Sharon Hensley, Nurse Manager in John Sealy Day Surgery & Rebecca Sealy Day Surgery
I give in gratitude for having been so richly blessed in my life. So often we take for granted our good health, caring friends and family, and general prosperity. This is a perfect opportunity to show that appreciation for all we have been given by sharing a small portion with those in need.
Sarah De Los Santos, Admitting Services
The reason I give is because even though I feel I don’t have much and I’m sure I do not have much compared to many people, there are still others out there who have way less then me and we should share our blessings. I am grateful to be able to share.
Nancy Bertolino, Surgery
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year - not just because our region begins to get a few days of beautiful weather, but because it is SECC time! One evening in fall, after the SECC drive has been announced for the year, my husband and I spend an evening together, settled on the couch, going through the list of agencies who need help, and deciding which ones to support. In our house, this has always been a family affair - my daughter was included when she lived at home with us, and she always participated in our choices.
First we decide on some categories: ' "I really want to do something to help children" or "there have been so many disasters this year, lets make sure we've got an agency that helps with world relief," and even "our birdwatching trips are so important to us - we've got to make sure that we do something to help preserve the environment."
Then, we use the information in the SECC listing to help us decide which specific agencies to support. We decide on a budget (thinking about what sacrifices we might make in order to be able to increase our giving), we debate the merits of one agency over another, make notes, and finally narrow it down to several that we all agree on.
At the end of the evening, we all feel great - we have spent time focusing on things and people outside our own lives that need our help, we've spent quality family time together (without the TV) and we've reaffirmed to ourselves one of our family values - that it is important to share our blessings with others.
I am grateful that the SECC allows us the opportunity to do it!
Ruth Finkelstein, Hospital Project Manager
I was raised to be a giver, to volunteer, to donate, to contribute and to share. It is a way of connecting with a larger self and being part of the world. It is about unity. Many are fortunate to have loving and capable families, but many are not as fortunate, it is for these individuals that we become "one family."
Larry D. Parson, Materials Management
It makes my heart feel real good to know that I am helping someone that’s really in need.
Vera Hamilton, Logistics
Seeing as how diabetes can effect so may different parts of the body from young children to adults and being diabetic myself, I truly understand the difficulties that come with this disease. I also am familiar with anyone having kidney problems. It is very important for us to give financially; it's our time to let people know that we care and that they are not alone. Health and its care is everyone's responsibility. Giving to SECC is just another way of showing "We Care." I feel it an honor and a privilege to give.
Denise Morris Galletti, Strategic Research Collaborations
In light of the devastating loss and suffering in our midst and the knowledge that “it could have been us," I welcome this opportunity to partner with my UTMB community to help ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters. I know it is only by the grace of God that I am in good health and blessed with the ability to work. Many would gladly trade places with me -- so even if it means driving my 10-year old car another year, I recognize now is the time to give sacrificially.
UTMB asserts we are “here for the health of Texas” – we care about others. There are so many opportunities to volunteer and to give. In fact, giving money is probably the easiest. Why not be a Santa’s Helper, Caring Clown or donate blood for the first time?
Each of us can make a difference with small acts of unselfishness and kindness. I like how Mother Theresa said it: “We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” My charities were: Salvation Army, The Jesse Tree, and the Christian Children's Relief Fund.
Monica Sue Dressler, Administrative Coordinator in Pediatric Cardiology
The organization I choose has helped me in the past and continues to help 1000’s of people all over the world. For me it is without hesitation that I give back to them. Many people need our help and this gives me an opportunity to give back. Times are tough right now but I know the guy upstairs watches over all of us. I’m so thankful and grateful for all I have in my life, a GREAT job, husband, family & friends. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to help others!
Debbie Ditto, Executive Recruiter and Sr. Human Resources Consultant
I have been giving to the SECC since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1997. I have been extremely lucky, blessed, fortunate, (whatever you want to call it) that I am able to get up and go to work everyday and carry on with most of my normal activities (I can't run anymore, but then, I never liked running anyway!). I know of many people with MS who are not as fortunate and have it much tougher. So, I give because I can...
Can have fun
Can appreciate life
and Can help others
Yvonne Diaz, Pedi-Speciality Clinic, Childrens Hospital
I have given to SECC to help others with their medical needs. I am very thankful that my Mother whom passed in 2004 was able to obtain the medical care that she needed with out any help from outside resources. My mother has raise me to give to others in need. I feel that this is the time to give in Memory of My Mother.
Lucille "Lucy" Vasquez, Office of the Dean of Medicine
I give in many ways...I give financially, I give of my time, my prayers and by donating blood. Anything I can do to help my brothers and sisters in need I will do. I thank God for all my blessings and if I am ever in need I pray that I will receive the same kind of support.
Karen Myers, Research Contract Analyst in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP)
I felt compelled to tell a personal story, which I decided to title, “Never Knowing the Future Impact of My Actions Today.”
In about 1982, I was visiting my former, elderly neighbors who moved to Dickinson into their own home (continued independence) at the request of their daughter. Her dad suffered a debilitating stroke, and she wanted her parents closer to her and her family.
During my visit, one of their new neighbors dropped by to check on them. I had the privilege of meeting that “man.” As we visited, he described the work he was involved with but I did not understand its concept and mission. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of pure compassion exude from his words and expressional demeanor. I was never in his presence thereafter, nor did we ever communicate again.
Some years later around 1984-85, I was volunteering with a non-profit organization and assisting with reviewing and evaluating budgets for organizations requesting funding. As I read the budget justification, I remembered the concept I heard in 1982 from my friends’ new neighbor – it awakened me again. However, this time, I sought information to try to better understand the concept to evaluate the funding request properly. The organization was new, struggling to increase funding and was competing with many other agencies for limited community dollars. One thing that jumped out to me was a request to fund a computer to help better serve the clients. Back then, desktops were far and few between. The justification was on point, and it was obvious to me, this organization had to have this device. Our funding budget was not going to allow this purchase; however, I asked the board of directors (all volunteers, too) to fund the purchase from the special priority budget for such special circumstances. That organization provided direct medical care to its clients.
The board approved the request, and from that point on, I saw the organization move from a two-room office with an executive director and one supporting staff member to a large organization with considerable, positive impact for our communities because it was able to justify public reimbursement funding for additional support. That office originated in Galveston and is now on the Mainland. At that time, if my memory serves me somewhat well, I believe it was named Hospice of Galveston County.
Beginning in the early ‘80s, I had multiple familial financial responsibilities and was able to donate $5.00 per year to my community organizations and some of my time. In 1997, I do not know what I would have done without that hospice organization for my Father. Never did I realize, my family would have such a need – oh, the man I met at my former neighbors’ home in Dickinson turned out to be the Executive Director of Hospice of Galveston County.
My action then to provide $5.00 support a year and my personal time left an indelible impact in my heart in 1997. We never know when we personally may need one of our community organizations for family members or ourselves.
I decided to speak to your heart as that “man” spoke so compassionately to mine many years ago and ask you to pledge at least the minimum amount of $2.00 per month or whatever you are able to our SECC campaign. We “never know the future impact of our actions today.”
Judy Sturgeon, Hospital Coding
When you read medical records for a living, you maintain an awareness of your own good fortune. I give because I am truly blessed in being able to do so, and I believe that if you don’t share your good fortune, you don’t get any more. I donate to the Animal Shelter and Adoption Center of Galveston – their clients can’t ask for help themselves and rely on us to understand and reach out on our own. I also donate to the American Red Cross, and the reasons are close to home as well as throughout the world. I thank them for their help on 9/11, after the tsunami and hurricanes and earthquakes and everything else. They consistently arrive first with relief, while other agencies are calculating votes or judging political agendas prior to offering a hand.
Ruby Adams, Pathology
In October 2003, I became unemployed. It took until July of 2004 (long after the unemployment benefits had run out) for me to find a job. During that period, I became ill with bronchitis and needed to see a doctor for medical care. I had no money and couldn’t afford to see a “regular clinic” doctor.
I made an appointment with St. Vincent’s House Clinic here in Galveston. I was treated so caringly and with such respect. The staff in the clinic had no idea who I was and I watched as they treated everyone with the very same care and respect I got. The doctors at the clinic come from UTMB.
Once I was gainfully employed and lucky to be doing something I truly love doing here at UTMB, I got excited last year when I read about being able to donate to SECC. This was the way for me to give back so that this small clinic can continue to make such a large difference in other people’s lives. It made a difference in mine.
Tammy Cupit, ENT Clinic
Giving to the SECC enables me to do two important things: Provide charitable contributions to those most in need Provide funding to organizations that make positive contributions for all of society in the public health arena.
I’m a huge proponent of Planned Parenthood and have been since my early college years. SECC gives me the chance to help this organization in their goal of healthier children; happier, better informed parents; and a more stable population. The CDC listed family planning as one of the ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. It feels good to support an organization that impacts this important area of public health.
Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and Reach Out to Read are also two great programs which positively impact children and families. Studies have shown that children who read early and often do better in life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through a national, grassroots network of community volunteers at 21,000 program sites, RIF provides 5 million children with 17 million new, free books and literacy resources each year.
Joseph Addison made a great point when he once remarked about charity: “I have somewhere met with the epitaph on a charitable man which has pleased me very much. I cannot recollect the words, but here is the sense of it: '’What I spent I lost; what I possessed is left to others; what I gave away remains with me.'”
Kenneth E. Johnson, Environmental Health and Safety
My brother-in-law's granddaughter was born with a birth defect and the March of Dimes really took care of her. She is doing much better and will in all likelihood lead a normal life because of them. I give so they can continue to help children.